Oklahoma Historical Society eyes Tulsa spot for Oklahoma Museum of Music and Popular Culture

The Oklahoma Historical Society is in talks with Bank of Oklahoma to acquire a full square block of land where it hopes to build a 67,000-square-foot museum.
BY BRANDY MCDONNELL bmcdonnell@opubco.com Published: May 7, 2011

The Oklahoma Historical Society has a spot picked out in Tulsa's Brady Arts District to establish the Oklahoma Museum of Music and Popular Culture, intended to affirm the state's status as a “crossroads of creativity.”

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 conclusion.

“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 statement.

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 campaign.

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.

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— 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.

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ANN KELLEY, STAFF WRITER

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