Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Art Museum Experiences Many Changes throughout Its History

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Art Museum Experiences Many Changes throughout Its History

Article excerpt

Almost two years and millions of dollars later, the new home of the Oklahoma City Museum of Art in The Donald W. Reynolds Visual Arts Center opened to the public Saturday in downtown Oklahoma City.

The Oklahoma City Museum of Art has come a long way from its beginnings nearly a century ago. But the mission remains the same - "foster a love and a taste for art and to establish a permanent museum of art."

In 1910, the Oklahoma Art League collected paintings and sponsored art exhibitions for more than 20 years before the Works Progress Administration opened an experimental art gallery to the public in January 1936. It was located in the old Commerce Building at 8-A S. Robinson Ave.

Nan Sheets, a well- known local artist and league member, first served as the gallery's technical adviser and then later as director. The gallery proved successful, and Sheets began a fund drive for the future Oklahoma Art Center.

The small art gallery later moved to the fifth floor of the new Municipal Auditorium and in January 1938 the Municipal Auditorium Federal Art Center opened five galleries to the public. One of the galleries featured the league's collection of 38 paintings. As director, Sheets maintained a schedule of changing exhibitions, art classes and three extension galleries in local libraries.

Eleanor Blake Kirkpatrick began working with Sheets during World War II. In 1945, the pair organized the first Beaux Arts Ball to raise funds for the Art Center. The Beaux Arts Society continues to provide funds through annual donations to an art acquisitions trust.

In 1958, John and Eleanor Kirkpatrick built a $278,825 new home for the center at the State Fair of Oklahoma Fairgrounds. The city provided the land and utilities.

Eleanor Kirkpatrick agreed to chair the acquisitions committee when Sheets retired in 1965. During Kirkpatrick's tenure, some of the museum's most prized collections were secured: the Beaux Arts, the Eason and Frank print collections and the controversial purchase of the Washington Gallery of Modern Art Collection for $110,000.

Meanwhile, two groups of art lovers emerged in the Oklahoma City community - the "moderns," who embraced the spirit of a new artistic era; and the "conservatives," who insisted that art retain elements of representation of real objects. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.