Local and state officials participated Wednesday in the ceremonial groundbreaking for the Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture, or OKPOP, in downtown Tulsa.
The museum, which anticipates an opening in late 2021, will be filled with memorabilia and information about musicians, film stars, authors and artists with Oklahoma ties. It will be across the street from the landmark Cain’s Ballroom music venue.
State and local officials used shovels shaped like electric guitars and wore hats that resembled the Golden Driller‘s for the ceremony.
KTUL-TV in Tulsa reported:
“It’s going to be unbelievable not only for Oklahoma but also, I think it’s going to be a highlight and lead the country,” said Governor Kevin Stitt.
The Oklahoma Historical Society received $25 million from the state to build OKPOP and an adjacent parking garage. This will be matched by an initial private fundraising campaign to raise $15 million for exhibits and collections.
The City of Tulsa has pledged $3 million, and Interak Corporation has donated property across from historic Cain’s Ballroom valued at approximately $1 million. The private campaign has already been launched with a $1 million challenge grant from the George Kaiser Family Foundation. […]
“I was arguing with the governor of Mississippi the other day about who had more musicians,” said Stitt. “He has Elvis, but we have Garth, Reba, Blake Shelton, and Carrie Underwood.”
The Tulsa World added:
The plan is for it to be 60,000-plus square feet of immersive, rotating exhibits on three floors, with an event venue, a performance space and a large terrace overlooking downtown. […]
It will showcase the achievements of state entertainers like Garth Brooks, Carrie Underwood and many more, as Oklahomans have sold more than 1 billion records, been nominated for an Emmy Award every year since 1962 and created iconic stories for the stage and screen. […]
“We want Oklahoma kids to come to this museum and see what’s accessible to them” he said, “… Like a girl in high school who’s writing a story that becomes ‘The Outsiders,’” as happened to Tulsa’s S.E. Hinton.
Bob Blackburn, executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society, shepherded the project and received a standing ovation during Wednesday’s ceremony. But others fought for the museum to be in Tulsa.
Among those in the fight was Jamie Oldaker, the revered rock drummer and one of three members in Eric Clapton’s band in the 1970s from Tulsa who recorded and toured with him for years.
“The first reaction: This needs to be in Oklahoma City,” Oldaker said he was told by legislators who wouldn’t consider Tulsa.
“I said, OK, raise your hand if you know anything about arts and culture in Oklahoma, and none of them did. I told them, you’ve got the basketball team in Oklahoma City. The arts and culture should be in Tulsa.”
The museum will be situated close to the Woody Guthrie Center and the future home of the Bob Dylan archive, in addition to Cain’s, which has hosted bands as diverse as the Sex Pistols and Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys.
The museum also would be less than a mile from the Second Street and Detroit Avenue intersection that was Route 66 during the late 1920s and early 1930s.
(Image of the OKPOP groundbreaking by Tulsa Regional Chamber via Facebook; artist’s rendering of the future OKPOP museum in Tulsa via Facebook )