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Gilcrease Museum unveils concept design for new building

Renderings of new Gilcrease Museum
Posted at 2:47 PM, Jun 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-25 11:43:12-04

TULSA, Okla. — Gilcrease Museum unveiled its concept design for an entirely new facility, re-imagining the museum from the ground up.

In April officials announced Gilcrease Museum is closing July 5, at the end of the day, to begin demolition of the current structures and begin construction of a new museum on-site.

READ MORE: Gilcrease Museum announces closing date, takes next steps in construction of new building

Gilcrease Museum Executive Director Susan Neal and Mayor G.T. Bynum unveiled the concept design for the new Gilcrease Museum and plan to re-imagine the museum from the ground up during a press conference on Thursday.

The re-envisioned museum presents a much-improved visitor experience and state-of-the-art exhibition space meeting today’s standards for the care of the collection and touring exhibitions.

"As we rebuild Gilcrease Museum, we seek to build a facility that reflects the Tulsa community and is worthy of one of the greatest collections of American art and history anywhere in the world,” Mayor G.T. Bynum said. "Thanks to Tulsa voters, the new design for Gilcrease Museum will put Tulsa's city-owned museum facility among the best in the nation while creating both indoor and outdoor experiences that were never possible before.”

At this time, Gilcrease Museum houses more than 350 years of American painting and sculpture, including the world’s largest public holding of the art of the American West, more than 100,000 manuscripts, photographs, maps, rare books, and other materials.

Executive Director Neal had this to say about the new designs:

“Gilcrease Museum has an unrivaled collection of objects that tells the stories of the Americas, but we need a space that provides a visitor experience to match the strength of the collection. Gilcrease and its collection are deeply rooted in the history of Tulsa, and also reveal national and international narratives that continue to touch our daily lives. Perhaps now more than ever, it is vitally important that we share these stories with as broad an audience as possible to help us better understand ourselves and one another, as well as introduce a new generation of visitors to the museum. The new Gilcrease will allow us to do just that.”

Designed by SmithGroup, the building is conceptually centered on reconnecting humankind to nature. Located within the Osage Nation reservation boundaries, the new building design contains subtle references to Osage culture. The new building will also feature color and material palettes to reflect art deco styles and natural tones of the land and sky.

SEE MORE: GALLERY: Gilcrease Museum unveils concept design for new building

“It is important that the new Gilcrease Museum is of the spirit, history, and people of its place. We are therefore weaving the naturally breathtaking landscapes with the phenomenal collection of art and the multitude of rich cultures present in this area of the country,” said Ivan O’Garro, lead designer for SmithGroup.

With improved gallery space, Gilcrease is able to utilize its collections to tell a richer, more nuanced story of American history and culture, offering multiple perspectives and exploring the relevance of the past to today. Visitors will be able to engage with each of these themes through three different lenses:

  • making (art)
  • meaning (historical context)
  • relevance (current community perspectives)

The museum’s master plan includes outdoor spaces where people can engage with one another and with nature. In addition to a new building that is responsive to nature, plans for the Gilcrease campus include more than 13 miles of new walking/bike trails that will ultimately connect with trail networks throughout the city, increasing access to Gilcrease, nature, and community.

The new Gilcrease is anticipated to be completed by the end of 2024. The project is funded through a combination of public and private sources. The museum will continue to raise additional funds for the implementation of its master capital expansion plan and endowment.

In collaboration with other community and non-profit organizations, Gilcrease Museum will continue to develop a variety of off-site or virtual programs for the entire community during the construction of the new building. More information on these programs will be announced in the coming months.

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