My wife and I spent all of Saturday afternoon (October 28) at the new and magnificent Oklahoma History Center at 2401 N. Laird. Though I’d been there before, this was my 1st “complete” visit though all floors and I know full well that it cannot all be taken in on one afternoon. This place is absolutely magnificent, and hopefully this post will give you a taste of why I say that.
Before the tour, first a few words of history about the History Center! The Oklahoma Historical Society is the parent and the Oklahoma History Center is the child. The previous home of the Oklahoma Historical Society was located on the east side of Lincoln Boulevard south of the State Capitol. The new one is on the northeast side of the State Capitol complex. The earlier building was completed in 1930 and looked like this … click an image for a larger view.
It was built when Charles F. Colcord was the director (“President”). See the December 1930 Chronicles of Oklahoma for more about the earlier facility, built at a cost of $500,000 … at least, that’s the amount appropriated by the Legislature in 1929.
The new place cost a bit more, $59 million, more than $10 million of which was donated by 4,000 businesses, individuals and foundations, according to Perry, Oklahoma’s the Ditch Witch website. It opened to fireworks on November 19, 2005. I completely agree with the assessment of Adam Knapp, here, when he says …
Even if you don’t consider yourself a history or education buff, you are sure to be amazed at the facilities and exhibits at the Oklahoma History Center. The exhibits are designed to be interactive in as many ways as possible, so children and adults alike will feel like part of the experience.
As well, much of the visual components of the History Center are enthralling to say the least. Included are many artifacts and images never seen before by the public eye.
Make the Oklahoma History Center one of your upcoming destinations. The experience will both educate and captivate.
Oklahoma historian extraordinare Dr. Bob Blackburn, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Historical Society, is the guy who nursed this new facility along its 7 year track in getting completed. Below, he’s on the right, pictured with forensic reconstruction expert and artist Harvey Pratt. Picture credit: Harvey Pratt’s website.
Before starting the tour, a couple of plugs for the Oklahoma Historical Society. Being a member of the society costs very little … go here for the many options.
Membership gets you the monthly “Mistletoe” newsletter and the outstanding quarterly scholarly journal, Oklahoma Chronicles. You can’t buy it in stores!
AND, there will be an Oklahoma Centennial New Year’s Eve Ball at the Oklahoma History Center – December 31, 2006! That’s one party I think I’ll stay up late to attend … what a great way to bring in the new year and Oklahoma’s Centennial as well! For your invite and registration form, go here!
OK. Enough words. Let’s get on with the October 28 tour.
In the following, click any pic for a larger view.
OUTSIDE. First the outside … what most people see (left pic below) while driving north on Lincoln Boulevard is actually the “back” side of this gorgeous building. If you’re wanting to enter the Center, you do so on the east side of the building, entering at NE 23rd & Laird.
Part of “Red River Journey” and Statue of CCC Boy
INSIDE. The interior public parts are on the 1st and 3rd floors. The 2nd floor is for OHS administrative offices and stuff.
Great Gift Shop … Left pic shows the Deep Deuce’s Aldridge Print
Right pic shows Wiley Post’s Winnie Mae replica