Gilcrease Museum, the city’s most valuable cultural asset and home to more than 350,000 objects related to the art, history and culture of North America, will receive an entirely new facility following extensive research and discussions with experts who evaluated the museum’s current conditions as part of the planned renovation approved by voters in the last Vision Tulsa package.
The mayor’s task force overseeing this Vision project received in-depth reports from SmithGroup, an international architecture, engineering and design firm. The surveyors carefully examined the current structure, which consists of a 1913 building and four layers of renovations that were added between 1940 and 1987. This exhaustive analysis of today’s Gilcrease clearly demonstrated that a fifth addition to the existing structure would neither sustain nor meet museum operating standards.
SmithGroup recommended that the most responsible solution to best serve Tulsans and the collection would require constructing an entirely new facility that provides efficient operations. This new museum will deliver increased gallery space to show more of the Gilcrease collection, accommodate exciting traveling exhibitions and ensure best-in-class preservation of the museum’s invaluable art, artifacts and documents.
“This new direction for Gilcrease Museum will ensure more exhibit space and room for traveling exhibits while safeguarding Gilcrease Museum’s collections for decades to come,” Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said. “Instead of making incremental improvements to an existing structure, the new facility will be able to maximize our museum offerings and create a full museum space both indoors and outdoors that match the true vision of Gilcrease Museum.”
While all of this can be accomplished within the planned budget supported by Vision Tulsa and a $10 million gift generously provided by the A.R. and Marylouise Tandy Foundation, other private organizations may seek to fund additional programming spaces for educational and cultural events and other features to further enhance the visitor experience.
“We are fortunate to have the expertise of SmithGroup and Gallagher and Associates who have been involved with the design and construction of some of the country’s most significant museums. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to do this right, take Gilcrease into the 22nd century and ensure the city’s asset is sustained for years to come,” said Susan Neal, executive director of Gilcrease and vice president for public affairs at The University of Tulsa, which manages the museum on behalf of the city.
The museum will remain open and serving Tulsa through much of the design phase and then close during a two-year construction phase. However, Neal said the public will still be able to access parts of the collection through “pop-up” museum activities at partner locations until the grand re-opening. Officials are now working on the exact timeline for this critical process. “We want to do this right,” she said.