NORMAN — The University of Oklahoma has not one, but two museums that make Norman the home of artistic and scientific treasures. The Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History opened the doors to its current home at 2401 S Chautauqua Ave. in May 2000, but the institution's history dates back to the 19th century. In 1899, the Oklahoma Territorial Legislature mandated the museum's creation as part of an action to establish a territorial geologist. The Sam Noble museum today has come a long way from its precarious pre-statehood days, and even since its cramped quarters through the 1990s. The current building has 195,000 square feet, including more than 50,000 square feet for exhibition space, and the stores more than 7 million specimens in 12 exhibits. Each specimen in every exhibit is based in Oklahoma's history or prehistory, museum Director Michael Mares said. The Sam Noble museum also is a contemporary place with monthly family movie nights, school programs, hands-on classes for children and adults throughout the year, presentations from scientists from around the world and other special events.
Significance to artThe Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art is home to the Weitzenhoffer Collection, the most important collection of French Impressionist art ever given to an American public university, and the Adkins Collection. Valued about $50 million, the Adkins Collection comprises 3,300 works by Taos artists and American Indian artists. And that's just the start of the museum's significance among university-based museums. The Fred Jones Jr. museum has about 12,300 pieces of art in its permanent collection, which include 20th century American painting and sculpture, traditional and contemporary American Indian and Southwest art, ceramics, photography and Asian art. The museum was founded in 1936 and moved in 1971 into its permanent home at 555 Elm Ave. It has undergone two recent expansions. The Lester Wing opened in 2005 and more than doubled the building. It houses several galleries including the Weitzenhoffer Collection. The Stuart Wing, under construction and expected to open in early 2011, will be home to the Adkins Collection, a 4,500-square-foot photography gallery and other exhibits. The museum also features traveling exhibitions, children's education activities, guest lectures, Tuesday noon concerts and other activities.
TO LEARN MORE→For more information about the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, call 325-4712 or go to www.snomnh.ou.edu. →For more information about the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, call 325-3272 or go to ou.edu/fjjma.