Leon Russell lends support for OKPOP Museum

TULSA - Musical legend Leon Russell made an appearance in Tulsa to support the proposed Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture, also knows as the OKPOP Museum.

Tulsa city leaders and the Oklahoma Historical Society have been trying to bring the OKPOP Museum to the city since 2007.

"I think it's a good thing," said Russell. "I think people will get a big kick out of it."

The final step would be for the state legislature to approve a $4.25 million bond issue to help fund construction.

In 2012, the issue was approved by the Senate, but failed in the House of Representatives.

The bond issue is most likely the last chance for the museum, said Bob Blackburn, executive director for the Oklahoma Historical Society.

Blackburn said the project has plenty of pledges and support, but in time, he is concerned that some support may fade.

"There is a limit to how long we can ask people to hang on," he said.

Blackburn does believe, however, that the OKPOP Museum will become a reality.

"This museum does not work in Oklahoma City. It does not work in Joplin. It does not work in Muskogee. It works in the Brady District of Tulsa," he said.

Russell echoed Blackburn's thoughts that the museum must be built in Tulsa.

"You don't really think of it as being a musical community, but I saw tremendous musical inspiration in both classical music and rhythm and blues, in this very town," the musician said.

The Grammy Award-winner stopped by the new Hardesty Arts Center to also announce that a collection of memorabilia would be donated to the museum by private donor and Tulsa-native Steve Todoroff.

The donation includes more than 4,500 items including photos, slides, audio recordings, video recordings, and tickets to the singer's concerts.

"It's always nice to be recognized," Russell said.

If the OKPOP Museum is constructed, it is expected to be complete by 2017.


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