What’s a 72-room Italian Renaissance villa doing in the middle of Tulsa, Oklahoma? It’s serving the city as a first-rate museum. Originally the home of oilman Waite Phillips (who presented it as a gift to the city in 1938), the Philbrook Museum of Art is now running out of palatial space for its expansive modern and contemporary art collections. So, with the backing of another super-rich Tulsa oilman philanthropist, George B. Kaiser of the Kaiser-Francis Oil Company, it hired Gluckman Mayner Architects of New York (Museo Picasso Málaga, The Andy Warhol Museum) to renovate a two-story, 30,000 sq. ft. gallery space in Downtown Tulsa. Philbrook Downtown will open June 14, 2013.
Just a few doors from Philbrook Downtown is the brand-new Woody Guthrie Center, also made possible by The George Kaiser Family Foundation. The Foundation recently bought the archives of Okie Woody Guthrie’s – 3,000 song lyrics, 700 pieces of artwork, 500 photographs, manuscripts, letters and journals – which will be available to researchers by appointment beginning this summer. Well, all but one mysterious document in Box 2, Folder 28. The envelope, marked simply “Woody Guthrie,” will not be opened until January 1, 2033–a mysterious contingency in Woody’s wishes. Maybe it contains an angrier version of Guthrie’s song If I Was Everything On Earth: “If I was president Roosevelt…I’d pass out suits of clothing/ At least three times a week/ And shoot the first big Oil Man/ That killed the fishing creek.”