OKPOP Museum Funding Finalized

HAPPY BOB WILLS: The great Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys will be highlighted in the OKPOP Museum, as will many other Oklahoma music and entertaining greats.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin recently signed a bill to approve the $25-million state bond issue to pay for the construction of the Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture (OKPOP). The museum will be built at 422 N. Main St. in downtown Tulsa, across the street from the historic Cain’s Ballroom, home of Bob Wills. Tulsan David Sharp and Interak Corporation donated the quarter block of land for the OKPOP site, estimated to be valued at $1 million.

“This is the perfect location for the museum because of the significance of Cain’s Ballroom to Oklahoma’s popular culture history,” Oklahoma Historical Society Executive Director Dr. Bob Blackburn says.

Additionally, Jeff Moore, OKPOP director, announced the museum has acquired the personal collection of the late Leon Russell, including his most recent piano. This collection includes more than 2,500 audio masters from Russell’s recording career and his work with Shelter Records. Russell and Denny Cordell established Shelter Records in 1969 and soon relocated the company from Los Angeles to Tulsa.

“This collection is of major importance to the OKPOP as it keeps this Oklahoman’s great work in Tulsa, instead of it being housed in Nashville or on the coasts,” Moore says. “The Leon Russell collection will join other donated collections from Oklahomans such as Bob Wills, Ernie Fields, Patti Page, Jamie Oldaker, Mary Kay Place, Tom Mix and Mason Williams.”

Tulsa-based firm Lilly Architects and Chris Lilly teamed with Overland Partners of San Antonio to lead the architectural design of OKPOP. Lilly has extensive experience working in the historic Brady Arts District.

“Taylor Hanson approached us with the idea of locating OKPOP across the street from Cain’s. He knew that this location offers the perfect mix of public visibility, proximity to a historic cultural and entertainment district and the ability to benefit Tulsa through tourism,” says Moore.

Site planning and design will commence in 2017, break ground at the beginning of 2018 and open late in the fourth quarter of 2019. The OKPOP facility will include a subterranean, 100-space parking garage to support visitors but also surrounding businesses, such as Cain’s Ballroom.

The OKPOP will be a new visitor experience that explores the history and creativity  of Oklahoma’s contributions to popular culture in the areas of music, movies, television, radio, theater, pop art, literature, comics, humor and Route 66.

Some of the Oklahomans who will be featured at the OKPOP include Will Rogers, Bob Wills, Joan Crawford, Gene Autry, Leon Russell, Reba McEntire, S. E. Hinton, Garth Brooks, Wes Studi, Alfre Woodard, James Marsden, Carrie Underwood and Kristin Chenoweth, among countless others.

“Newcomers are constantly blown away by our historic attractions and film and music scene. Now, OKPOP adds even more appeal to our cool factor,” VisitTulsa President Ray Hoyt says.  “The estimated breakdown of 100,000 visitors to OKPOP on an annual basis results in more than $11 million dollars within the Oklahoma economy.”

The design and construction of OKPOP will be funded by the $25-million bond issue.
Mike Neal, president and of the Tulsa Regional Chamber, touts the leadership of Blackburn for making OKPOP a reality.

“Dr. Blackburn relentlessly led the charge and never lost faith in the vision to establish a world-class museum in one of Tulsa’s most prominent entertainment hubs. For eight years, he traveled back and forth to Tulsa, visiting with leaders and philanthropists within the business community and educating us on everything from design concepts to proposed legislation,” Neal says. “Additionally, the chamber’s regional OneVoice legislative agenda strongly advocated for the project along with many individual supporters.”

Updated 07-24-2017

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