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Tulsa, Oklahoma: A Place with a Pace

Music: Woody Guthrie Center

“This Land Is Your Land” may seem like a simple folk song, but it celebrates ideas about democracy and equality that were treasured by its composer, Woody Guthrie. The influential folk musician’s life inspired the creation of Tulsa’s Woody Guthrie Center.

An Oklahoma native, Guthrie wrote catchy tunes about America that had the deeper purpose of relating complex ideas about human rights and economic equality.

“His writing inspired artists far past his years,” said Hoyt. “Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and others were all influenced by Woody Guthrie. You learn about how Guthrie was talking about fascism and other political topics through his music.”

Museumgoers can view his instruments, artwork and photographs and other historical memorabilia from his life. A short film, samples of his music and folk music events also enrich the experience. In April, the museum opened an interactive experience to teach visitors about the Dust Bowl, an event that inspired several of Guthrie’s songs. This exhibit uses virtual reality technology to enable visitors to view dust clouds rolling across the Oklahoma prairie.

For more music: Bob Dylan Center

Set to open in 2021, the Bob Dylan Center will house archives from the singer’s life as well as interactive exhibits that will provide attendees with a deeper comprehension of Dylan’s work.

Art: Gilcrease Museum

Lectures, living-history presentations, live music performances, art classes and after-hours parties ensure that a trip to the Gilcrease Museum will be memorable. The museum offers groups numerous options, with public garden tours and docent-guided museum tours.

With more than 10,000 paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures by 400 artists from Colonial times to the present, the Gilcrease Museum has one of the world’s largest and most comprehensive collections of American West art. The Native American collection especially shines, with rare art, artifacts and historic manuscripts on display.

“The art collection is unique from a Native American perspective,” said Hoyt. “Mr. Gilcrease was collecting Native American art when others weren’t. That’s a story within itself.”

Thomas Gilcrease grew up in Creek Nation, present-day Oklahoma, until the federal government distributed the lands held by the Native Americans there to private citizens. His tribal membership allotted him 160 acres south of Tulsa. This land stood on one of the state’s major oil fields, granting Gilcrease instant wealth. His tribal heritage inspired him to collect Native American art and other American West art rapidly.

Today, prominent American artists line the museum’s walls, among them Thomas Moran.

For more art: Philbrook Museum

Another oilman, Waite Phillips, endowed his multimillion-dollar mansion and art collection to the city of Tulsa.