The COVID-19 virus has gripped the nation and the world in recent weeks, but I want to assure you that our bold vision for a new Gilcrease Museum continues to move forward. These uncertain times have not changed our plans to explore boundless opportunities for the museum and the City of Tulsa. The work we are doing with Gallagher and Associates to reposition the Gilcrease narrative and brand can now be fully realized in a new building to be designed by nationally known museum architects, SmithGroup, and Tulsa’s own 1Architecture. As a community, we are grateful to the Mayor’s Task Force for embracing this bold new vision for Tulsa’s most valuable asset.
Whenever this level of change is announced, it naturally inspires great enthusiasm as well as many questions. As stakeholders you are important to the future of Gilcrease, and therefore I want to assure you that much thought is going into a comprehensive, multiphase plan for what happens during construction related to the collection, the staff, ongoing events and public engagement, membership and fundraising — all critical to the success of this project. We are working with two internationally known museum design firms that are as experienced in building business, marketing, staffing and collection plans as they are in building museums. While it may be our “first rodeo,” it is not theirs and we are in great hands.
One of the most exciting opportunities this new construction presents is how we further integrate the Gilcrease experience with the land — its beautiful setting in the Osage Hills. In our current configuration, we have a single space dedicated to enjoying a magnificent vista. The new museum will not only include more opportunities for enjoying views but more ways for visitors to actually experience this extraordinary setting.
For some time, my vision for Gilcrease has included connecting it to the regional bike trail system. Located one mile from the Katy Trail, the opportunity to connect Gilcrease recreationally to other cultural assets (downtown, River Parks, the Gathering Place, Jenks Aquarium, etc.) will be realized in the development of a hard-surface multipurpose trail that will be included in the renovation of Gilcrease Museum Road. This project was funded in the city’s most recent Improve Our Tulsa package and will be coordinated with the opening of the new Gilcrease Museum.
Already there is community interest in the recreational development of the city’s land around Gilcrease to potentially include a sculpture garden, mountain bike trails and amphitheater to name just a few of the amenities that could contribute to making Gilcrease even more of a destination. While these amenities are not currently funded, the recent announcement of a totally new Gilcrease Museum is already inspiring an even bigger vision for the Gilcrease experience.
Today’s COVID-19 crisis presents moments of anxiety, but we will endure this tragedy together and celebrate when we all can once again visit Gilcrease and its new facility in person. While we are forging a new path, a new vista for our future, I am so grateful to have your support along the way. I hope you and yours are well.
Executive Director of Gilcrease Museum and
Helmerich Center for American Research
Vice President for Public Affairs, The University of Tulsa