The Helmerich Center for American Research to be constructed at Gilcrease Museum

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A construction celebration was held Wednesday, June 27 for The Helmerich Center for American Research.

The University of Tulsa announced plans in September 2010 to develop and construct the facility which is a natural extension of Thomas Gilcrease's mission to preserve and promote the art, history and culture of the Americas.

The Helmerich Center for American Research will enhance scholarship opportunities relating to the Gilcrease Museum as well as secure broader international attention for Gilcrease Museum and Tulsa. The facility will be built adjacent to Gilcrease Museum at 1400 N. Gilcrease Museum Road.

Tulsa businessman and philanthropist, the late Walter Helmerich III, and his wife Peggy, provided the lead gift for the research center.

"With the development of The Helmerich Center for American Research, Gilcrease Museum is building on a legacy of outstanding scholarship and poised to move forward the museum’s scholarly pursuits and academic research. The museum is deeply indebted to the Helmerich family for their long-standing support, which has made possible many advances by the museum over the past four decades," said TU President Steadman Upham.

The facility will house the Gilcrease Library and Archive containing nearly 100,000 rare books, documents, maps, and unpublished works. The collection includes a vast archive of printed documents dating back to the time of Columbus that detail Spanish arrival in the New World, as well as documents that tell the stories of the New England colonies, Westward expansion, and the experiences of America’s native peoples.

"The Helmerich Center for American Research opens the Gilcrease archival collection to scholars from around the world bringing the art and art history of the Americas to a global audience. In the future, Gilcrease will produce high-quality digital images of its archival items for wider use and publication," said Duane H. King, executive director of Gilcrease Museum and The University of Tulsa Vice President of Museum Affairs.

The 25,000-square-foot center will host visiting faculty and students from around the world to conduct scholarly research on the collection. In addition, the center’s gathering spaces will create opportunities for seminars, lectures, and exhibitions that will engage both professional audiences and the general public.

Additional facility highlights are planned to include a conservation laboratory, conference center, research offices and work areas, classrooms, a processing laboratory for electronic cataloguing and digitization of the collections, a recording studio and media production center, and an outreach office to aid in the dissemination of education materials and scholarly research.

In addition to the research center and archive, the university will provide new parking adjacent to the research facility, as well as a new museum maintenance building.

The city of Tulsa has entered into an agreement for a long-term lease for the Helmerich Center on the museum's existing property.

The research center is expected to open in 2014.

Melani Hamilton