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Oil history exhibit to receive upgrade

The Oklahoma History Center is expanding its oil and natural gas exhibits.
by Adam Wilmoth Modified: September 6, 2013 at 4:00 pm •  Published: September 5, 2013

Oklahoma History Center Executive Director Bob Blackburn had no trouble raising the $1 million needed to drastically overhaul the museum's oil and natural gas exhibit.

“I told our local energy executives that we've let Hollywood tell our story for too long and that we need to tell it accurately and honestly,” Blackburn said.

The upgrade will include improvements to both the inside and outside oil and natural gas exhibits.

John Groendyke on Wednesday delivered a restored 1964 oil transporter the company used to haul oil from well sites throughout the state.

“If you look at western Oklahoma at all the things that Devon and Chesapeake and Continental Resources and so many other companies have done for the growth of Oklahoma and our industry, I think it speaks well of Oklahoma,” Groendyke said.

“Oklahoma has always had a can-do attitude. My dad used to say, ‘It might be difficult, but it's not impossible if you make up your mind that you're going to get it done.' I think that dogged determination to be successful and to get it done makes Oklahoma stand out.”

Other upgrades

Along with the addition outside, the museum is revamping its presentation inside.

The new indoor exhibit is expected to open in February.

“We're trying to show the public that oil and gas is more than just drilling for oil and gas,” Blackburn said. “That is a very easily understood part of the process. But we want to show what's there before the drilling and after the drilling. That is the part of the industry the general public doesn't always understand.”

The exhibit will begin with the end user and then explain where the oil and natural gas comes from. The two entrances to the exhibit feature a replica 1964 Kerr-McGee gas station and a natural gas burning stove.

“Most exhibits like this start with rocks. That's the passion of the oil patch, but that is only part of the story,” Blackburn said. “Where most Oklahomans will never fully understand geology, almost everyone understands putting gas in a car and turning the nozzle for a blue flame on your stove.”

The display will feature a replica of a Helmerich and Payne flex rig, interactive exhibits and historical photos.

The exhibit also will include the legacy of the oil industry, which includes conservation, community philanthropy and landmarks.

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by Adam Wilmoth
Energy Editor
Adam Wilmoth returned to The Oklahoman as energy editor in 2012 after working for four years in public relations. He previously spent seven years as a business reporter at The Oklahoman, including five years covering the state's energy sector....
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