Vinson Lackey’s Oklahoma Paintings at Gilcrease

In 1945, Thomas Gilcrease commissioned Vinson Lackey to research, record, and then create works of art representing the early institutions of Indian Territory. This historic group of Oklahoma’s pre-statehood buildings included forts, old Indian capitols, agencies, schools, churches, homes and industrial structures.

Each painting was to be a faithful reproduction of the original structure. The project took Lackey four years to complete. He traveled to the sites and made sketches of the terrain, took copious notes, and tracked down any available information that might be useful to the project.

His source material consisted of a few photographs, but many of the buildings had never been photographed. He utilized original building plans and specifications, elevations, old architectural drawings, and descriptive correspondence. He searched old publications for records, maps, and photographs, seeking out the collections of individuals, historical foundations, libraries, museums, and government agencies. He interviewed early settlers and Indians who lived near the structures or attended the schools. He measured crumbling foundations and inspected chimneys that were still standing. Lackey also made use of illustrations by artists sent to the frontier by Harper’s Weekly and Century Magazine in territorial days.

With painstaking attention to detail, Lackey created 105 paintings in the series, presenting a valuable and irreplaceable record of these institutions. Most have long since been razed, destroyed by fire, or have deteriorated. Only a few are still in existence.

Beginning on Mar. 10th, visitors to Gilcrease Museum will have an opportunity to see 60 of these masterful works. This exhibition is an Oklahoma Centennial event. Join Gilcrease celebrating the rich history of Oklahoma through the works of Vinson Lackey.

Find out more about Gilcrease Museum online at

Updated 02-28-2007

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