1. Historic Partnership Created
On July 1, 2008, Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor, TU President Steadman Upham and Gilcrease Board of Trustees Chair Dale McNamara entered into an agreement making The University of Tulsa the managing partner of Gilcrease Museum on behalf of the City of Tulsa. During the past decade, under the reigns of Mayor Dewey Bartlett, Mayor G.T. Bynum and TU President Gerard Clancy, the partnership has flourished with no signs of slowing.
2. Duane H. King Hired as Executive Director
As the first executive director under the partnership, Duane H. King was instrumental in leading the transition of the museum management from the City of Tulsa to TU. King was appointed as the executive director of Gilcrease Museum and TU vice president for museum affairs in May 2008 and served until May 2014. He also oversaw construction of the Helmerich Center for American Research and was named as its inaugural executive director in April 2014, where he served until his passing in September of 2017.
3. 101 Ranch: The Real Wild West
The partnership began with the 101 Ranch: The Real Wild West exhibition in July 2008 to much excitement and anticipation. Comprising more than 3,700 rare photographs, posters, costumes and firearms once used in “Miller Brothers’ Real Wild West,” a show featuring cowboys from the famed 101 Ranch in Ponca City, the exhibition kick-started a decade of diverse exhibitions at Gilcrease.
4. Museum Science & Management Graduate Program Launches
In the fall of 2009, the TU Graduate School, in collaboration with Gilcrease Museum and various academic departments at TU, launched a new graduate program — Master of Arts in Museum Science & Management. The Gilcrease staff and TU faculty collaborated to provide in-depth opportunities to specialize in the curation, care and exhibition of American art, archaeology, ethnology and archives. This graduate program continues to provide not only a new field of study for TU students, but is helping to create the next generation of museum leaders.
5. Helmerich Center for American Research Opens
On September 6-7, 2014, the 25,000-square-foot Helmerich Center for American Research opened with a celebratory weekend attracting more than 4,500 visitors. Housing the Gilcrease Library and Archive, the center includes a digitization lab and conservation lab outfitted with the latest in technologically advanced equipment. With scholars from around the world utilizing the facility, the center has continued to elevate the museum’s reputation allowing Gilcrease to bring the art and history of the Americas to a global audience.
6. Helmerich Center for American Research Hosts Inaugural Symposium
On March 27-28, 2015, the Helmerich Center for American Research held its inaugural symposium titled The Gilcrease Archives: Unlocking the History of the Americas. Highlighting the roster of presenting scholars was Fenella France, chief of Preservation Research and Testing Division, Library of Congress. She disclosed in her findings that Silas Deane penned Gilcrease’s copy of the Declaration of Independence. Through the years, five symposia have been hosted, helping garner national attention for the center and its work.
7. James Pepper Henry Named Executive Director
On March 30, 2015, Gilcrease named James Pepper Henry executive director of Gilcrease Museum. During his tenure, Pepper Henry helped secure $65 million for the museum’s new vision setting Gilcrease on course for a new future. Additionally, he initiated a more contemporary traveling exhibition schedule to expand the museum’s audiences.
8. Gilcrease Launches Online Collection
Gilcrease launched its online collections database featuring more than 20,000 items from the art, anthropology and archival collections on May 15, 2016. With these advancements, Thomas Moran, Charles M. Russell, the famous Charles Russell Research Collection (Britzman), and archival materials including the John Ross Papers are now accessible to the world with a quick click of the mouse. Today, more than 25,000 items from the collections of art, anthropology, archives and library materials are digitized and searchable together with a robust software, placing Gilcrease among the world’s leaders in multidisciplinary institutions bringing its collections online.
9. Bob Dylan Archive Comes to Tulsa
On March 2, 2016, TU and the George Kaiser Family Foundation announced they had acquired the Bob Dylan Archive making headlines around the world. As a result, the archive, containing more than 6,000 manuscripts, handwritten lyrics, recordings and other memorabilia, headed to the Helmerich Center for American Research. Further broadening the research opportunities associated with the archive, TU launched its Institute of Bob Dylan Studies, the only university-based center dedicated to a single popular artist, in October 2017.
10. Vision Tulsa Approved
In April 2016, Tulsa citizens approved the Vision Tulsa package that included a transformational $65 million capital expansion project for Gilcrease Museum. As a result, the museum will undergo a major expansion and remodel. Additionally, in conjunction with Vision Tulsa, TU launched The Campaign for Gilcrease, a $50 million endowment campaign for operations of the museum.
11. Susan Neal Named Executive Director
With more than 30 years of experience in management, government and community relations, Susan Neal previously served as the museum’s chief operating officer and served two terms as the interim director. Named executive director on September 14, 2017, Neal is poised to lead Gilcrease through the expansion and will work with staff, TU and city administrations to position Gilcrease for decades of future success.
12. Culture of the Americas Created
Created in June 2017, Cultures of the Americas (COTA) is a TU faculty-driven initiative that nurtures cross-disciplinary teaching and research by drawing upon existing resources from TU’s Kendall College of Arts and Sciences, as well as materials housed at McFarlin Library Special Collections, the Helmerich Center for American Research and Gilcrease Museum. Designed to enhance internal partnerships between TU, the Helmerich Center for American Research and Gilcrease, while also reaching out to cultural institutions in and around Tulsa, COTA is another innovative program resulting from the partnership.
13. Gilcrease Hires Gallagher & Associates for Interpretive Plan
In April 2018, Gilcrease Museum announced the selection of Gallagher & Associates, an internationally recognized museum planning and design firm, to lead its interpretive master plan and feasibility study. As the integral first step of the expansion process, the master plan will provide the vision for the re-imagined Gilcrease and help guide the architecture. Following the approximately six-month process, TU and the city will create a request for proposals for an architect.
14. The University of Tulsa Provides Ongoing Support
Utilizing its time, talent and treasure, The University of Tulsa has worked hand-in-hand with Gilcrease to create new opportunities for Tulsa citizens, students and scholars over the last decade. With the expansion on the horizon, TU’s efforts to further strengthen the museum will include community outreach initiatives, new faculty and scholar endeavors, and the completion of The Campaign for Gilcrease to ensure a first-class experience for future generations. With decades of additional milestones to come, TU looks forward to helping create a cultural resource for our city and tourists worldwide.