This is a fairly new museum and is dedicated to the history of Oklahoma. If I were to criticize it at all, it would be that the variety of exhibits is almost too great, but it does cover the waterfront. Among the art works are many of Native American life done by Native Americans. There is also a section on the Civil Rights Movement in Oklahoma and there we discovered the photo of an old friend from the days we lived in Oklahoma City (prior to 1970). Inside is the Winnie May, the airplane belonging to Wiley Post, a friend of Will Rogers who died with him in a plane crash. Oklahoma Cityany joke that it is the only city that has two airports named for men who died in plane crashes. Outside the building itself is the Red River Journey - a walking tour featuring some sense of the Red River Valley land formations and important history. Across the parking lot is an outdoor oilfield exhibit with drilling derricks, a portable derrick and machinery associated with Oklahoma oil explorations
The Oklahoma History Center is a definite must for anyone curious about the Sooner state. The Smithsonian Institute affiliated museum opened in November 2005 in a striking new 215,000 square-foot building across the street from the Oklahoma Capitol. In fact, a three-story high curved glass wall in the building’s grand entry hall provides a truly astounding view of the Capitol building.
Arranged in several major galleries across two floors, the museum encompasses more than 50 topics, with over 2,000 artifacts. Topics include Native American cultures, exploration, the development of transportation and important industries, the unique ways in which the state was settled, growth and societal changes in rural and urban areas, entertainment, broadcasting, and sports, and many others.
The quality of the artifacts and the methods of display are first-rate. Particularly notable are the walk through replicas of a 1950's kitchen and a Depression-era farmhouse (with FDR on the radio and dust-bowl dirt on the windowsills); Indian moccasins displayed "underfoot" in a recreated Oklahoma landscape; and a 1920's African-American barber shop and a 1960's Woolworth's lunch counter - with "Whites Only" and separate "Colored" drinking fountains nearby. Be sure to watch the video on tornados in the Noble Foundation gallery. Several interesting items are also outside on the museum grounds.
The Center is open 9:00-5:00, Monday - Saturday, and 12:00-5:00 on Sunday. Closed New Years, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Admission is $5.00/adults, $4.00/seniors, $3.00/students and Smithsonian Institute members. Children under 5 are free.
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