The Oklahoma Historical Society has a spot picked out in Tulsa's Brady Arts District to establish the Oklahoma Museum of Music and Popular
The historical society is in talks with Bank of Oklahoma, based in Tulsa, to acquire a full square block of land where it hopes to build the 67,000-square-foot museum.
The property is now a surface parking lot just north of Union Depot. The land connects the Brady District with downtown Tulsa, making it ideal for the museum, said historical society Executive Director Bob Blackburn.
“It's the crossroads of Tulsa,” he said. “Oklahoma has been so blessed with so many creative people ... so we have this new theme called ‘crossroads of creativity,' because so much of America's and the world's creative spirit has come through Oklahoma.”
Both parties confirmed Friday that the talks are nearing a successful
“Bank of Oklahoma is pleased to be involved with this project as part of our continued commitment to support the redevelopment of downtown Tulsa and to support initiatives that benefit the entire state of Oklahoma. This museum will help efforts to make our community a major regional entertainment destination and will assist in workforce recruitment and meaningful population growth,” BOK spokesman Jesse Boudiette said in a
Nicknamed the OK Pop, the museum would be a companion institution to the Oklahoma History Center, Blackburn said. The historical society is seeking a $40 million bond issue from the state. It plans to match state funds with an $8 million private fundraising campaign. The George Kaiser Family Foundation has put up a $1 million challenge grant to launch the
If the bond issue is authorized in fiscal year 2012, Blackburn said the museum could open in 2015.
Despite the state budget crunch, he remains optimistic the OK Pop can be built. If the bond issue is authorized this year, the historical society won't need the funds until the 2014 fiscal year.
“Right now, the projections are that state revenue will be back to where it was by next year, back to FY '09 (levels) ... and then hopefully by 2014, it will even exceed that,” he said.
“We're just saying it'd be worth investing the money in this, that it will generate more economic activity and serve a lot purposes,” he said.
The OK Pop would feature Smithsonian-quality exhibitions showcasing the state's contributions to music, movies, TV, radio, literature and more. History Center exhibits such as “Another Hot Oklahoma Night: A Rock & Roll Exhibit,” “Chester Gould and Other Okie Cartoonists” and “Pickin' and Grinnin': Roy Clark, ‘Hee Haw' & Country Humor” would form the foundation of the OK Pop's offerings.
Jeff Moore, formerly the History Center's exhibitions director, has accepted the job as director of the as-yet-unbuilt museum. Creativity is “one of Oklahoma's major exports, and I don't think the state has always recognized that,” he said.
“It's got so much potential to do so much good for the state in so many ways, including in kind of self-identity, just increasing awareness of how creative and amazing the people of this state are and have been. There's just so many stories,” he said.
“Oklahoma deserves it. The creatives of Oklahoma deserve it, and Oklahoma needs to be inspired by it. And the world needs to know that Oklahoma's story is an international story.”
Hundreds of artists have offered their support and collections, ranging from Garth Brooks and Kristin Chenoweth to the families of the late Bob Wills and Gould, he said.
Conservatively, the OK Pop would draw about 100,000 paid visitors a year, plus another 100,000 unpaid guests such as those attending special events, Blackburn estimated.
The museum would have an anticipated $1.8 million annual operations budget, and he anticipated the museum would be able to pay for its operations from the first year through a planned $3 million endowment, annual fundraising efforts and various revenue streams including admissions, gift shop sales, special event rentals and a planned parking garage. The parking garage would serve BOK employees, the museum and the surrounding area.
“Providing adequate parking will be an important element of this project,” Boudiette said. “Downtown currently has many parking options, and as the Blue Dome and Brady districts continue to expand within the corridor between ONEOK Field and the BOK Center, parking facilities for downtown workers and visitors will be in high demand.”
Man pleads not guilty
SHAWNEE — A man accused of stabbing to death a Shawnee man pleaded not guilty this week to first-degree murder. Court proceedings had been delayed while Peter Stephen Floch, 34, underwent a psychiatric evaluation. Floch is accused of killing Jimmie Leroy Simon, 71, on May 12. Floch was arrested May 14, according to court records. He has waived his right to a preliminary hearing and is set to appear in court Tuesday, May 31. He is held in the county jail without bail.
Bicyclists get road space
MOORE — The Moore City Council this week passed an ordinance requiring drivers to give bicyclists 3 feet of roadway when driving past them. The ordinance was proposed by Councilman Terry Cavner. City Attorney Randy Brink said cyclists are supposed to bike in the same direction as traffic and remain as far over to the side of the road as possible. Drivers can be fined up to $500 for not giving cyclists the required space when passing.
ANN KELLEY, STAFF WRITER