When my husband and I moved to Oklahoma City in 1958, we noticed an unusual structure on Persimmon Hill. It looked deserted, with just these zigzag angles that appeared to be a roof for something, but no walls. Weeds and grass had grown tall. The structure sat that way for a long time. Remembering this, I looked up the history of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum to compare it with the delay we now have with the American Indian cultural center sitting in the same condition.
From the time Chester Reynolds posed the question about having a cowboy museum, to opening day, was over 18 years. That includes five years before an actual board was formed putting the wheels into motion to create the museum. Even at that, it was more than 13 years until opening. By the mid-1980s, the museum was suffering from diminishing revenues. It joined eight other museums in a consortium called Museums West. In 1992, the “Visions of the West” $35 million capital campaign was launched with the desire to triple the museum's size and programming by 1995. To become a state-of-the-art museum for the nation, other states and museums had to get involved.
Have we not taken a lesson from the history of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum and applied it to the Indian cultural center? Let's get other states and their Indian populations on board with support, ideas, etc. Otherwise, it will sit for 13 to 18 years.
Colleen King, Oklahoma City
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