OKC Museum of Art Celebrates 10 Years Downtown

Photo by Helen Grant.

Can you imagine a montage of iconic “Oklahoma City” images without the Oklahoma City Museum of Art’s 55’ tall tower of Dale Chihuly art glass?

In a relatively short time, the Eleanor Blake Kirkpatrick Memorial Tower–that is the title of this piece–has become indelibly linked to the public image of downtown Oklahoma City. The same can be said for the institution that houses it: the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. For the past decade of construction and changes downtown, the museum has been an anchor–a welcoming beacon of culture and art at the heart of the city.

Photo by Helen Grant.

But the term “anchor” should not imply stagnation. New projects and initiatives, as well as ongoing programming with a focus on outreach, ensure that the museum has its eye on the new, the challenging, and the cutting-edge, as it becomes a more dynamic part of this community through partnerships and innovative programs. An example of its newer initiatives, the museum’s newest program projectscreenbrings contemporary video artists to the museum. The evocative, genre-bending work of inaugural projectscreen artist Marina Zurkow will be on view through March 18.

This weekend, the museum celebrates its 10th anniversary in this downtown location with a weekend full of events. There will be free admission Friday through Sunday, live art performances from music to magic, interactive activities for all ages, and staff-led talks on current exhibitions, to name a very few.

The talks are an accessible and fun way to learn more about the art on display and the context in which it was created. On Sunday at noon, a talk led by curator Alison Amick will cover the museum’s wildly popular Chihuly exhibit.  At 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, Assistant Education Curator Bryon Chambers will discuss: “Princely Treasures: European Masterpieces 1600-1800 from the Victoria & Albert Museum,” First Floor. At 1 p.m., Chambers will lead visitors through:Julie Heffernan: Infinite Work in Progress,” Third Floor. The work of Julie Heffernanis displayed at OKCMOA as part of the New Frontiers series on contemporary art, and her complex, dizzying layers of art historical references and personal symbolism are well worth a lingering look.

Photo by Helen Grant.

“Kindie” rock band–a genre that describes music with children’s themes and an indie-rock pedigree–Sugar Free Allstars perform at 2:00pm and 4:00pm on Saturday, and additional family-friendly performances by Balcum Rancum Puppetry, Spaghetti Eddie, magician Jim Green and much more take place throughout the weekend. In addition to the above, hands-on arts activities for youth will be ongoing all day Saturday and Sunday.

Cult and/or classic films–from Casablancato Young Frankenstein to a Greasesing-along–will screen all weekend long in the Noble Theater. Indeed, there will be no shortage of programs and events, whatever your demographic. Please see the full schedule of anniversary events here.

To fully appreciate the resource available to the city that is the OKCMOA, it may be worthwhile to take a look back:

Before it was downtown, the “Oklahoma City Art Museum” was housed in a circular building at the state fairgrounds, fraught with constant leaks, mold, and other problems. Staff struggled to maintain the quality of the artwork. With ongoing quality control issues and an out-of-the-way location, visits to the museum could be a somewhat gloomy experience, despite a few gems on display.

Photo by Helen Grant.

Today, our city has a museum to be proud of, with ongoing outreach and educational activities that seek to reach new and returning patrons across the city. By relocating downtown a decade ago, the museum invested in the future of this city’s center. By supporting their anniversary events and their programs, exhibits, and films year-round, we can invest in them right back.

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