Philbrook Museum of Art
When you think of your next great vacation, the state of Oklahoma might not make the top of your list. However, this often-overlooked part of the country has much to offer. In addition to the chance of seeing the Great Plains or one of several mountain ranges, one of Tulsa’s urban highlights is the Philbrook Museum of Art.
A Cultural Commitment
Located in Tulsa, the Philbrook Museum of Art dedicates itself to providing residents and visitors with an engaging crossroads of different experiences. The museum is a world-class home to many pieces of art, but the historic home is a destination itself. Over two dozen acres of gardens provide an outdoor balance to the visit.
The art museum opened in October of 1939. In 1990, 70,000 square feet were added to the historic home so it became a major museum facility. The garden underwent a major renovation 14 years later to become what many consider the most beautiful place in the state.
If you choose to be among the 160,000 annual visitors, you can witness perspectives, stories, and ideas represented through 16,000 objects with a cumulative emphasis on Native American, European, and American art.
A Century of History
The historic home now part of the museum started as Villa Philbrook in the roaring 1920s. Tulsa was flooded with oil money, and one of the tycoons was Waite Phillips. He hired Edward Buehler Delk from Kansas City to design a villa in the Italian Renaissance style. Delk also handled the architectural design behind Villa Philmonte in New Mexico and the nearby Philtower office building.
In 1938, Phillips announced that he was gifting the mansion and surrounding grounds to the city of Tulsa so it could be an art museum. The original residence remains intact as it was back then, but later additions have expanded the gardens and facility. The museum’s Nine art collections reflect global culture, styles, and media. A cornerstone collection emphasizes Native American art, including jewelry, paintings, pottery, and basketry.
The Glory of the Gardens
The Philbrook Museum of Art sits on 25 acres of grounds between informal and formal gardens. Hare & Hare originally designed the expansive outdoor space inspired by Villa Lante, a country estate north of Rome. Diagonal walks and drills link the primary mansion to a rustic pool at a lower level. Gardens also extend to a summerhouse built in 2004, featuring a refurbished creek adorned by plants native to the state. This section is where you can find Barry Flanagan’s bronze sculpture, Thinker on a Rock.
Accessibility for Visitors
The museum welcomes everyone who wants to visit, and accommodations are made whenever possible. If you need an accessible parking space, you can find them all in the upper lot. Everyone using the lower lot can access the museum entrance via a staircase. If a visitor who has a disability arrives with a caregiver, that person can enjoy free admission.
Mobility devices and personal wheelchairs are welcome throughout the facility, and a select group of seated walkers and wheelchairs are provided on a first-come, first-serve basis. All restrooms are accessible to those in wheelchairs. Most of the gardens and the museum are available to wheelchair users, but certain paths are uneven or steep.
Trained service animals and guide dogs are permitted across the property. Therapy animals, pets, and emotional support animals aren’t allowed in.
Except for locations or exhibits otherwise posted, you can take personal use photographic images on non-flash camera settings throughout the museum and gardens. To truly immerse yourself in everything the museum and gardens offer with a guided tour, you might need as many as four hours to experience it all.
Visiting Hours Are Variable
If your travels take you through Tulsa, Philbrook Museum of Art should be one of your stops. However, you should know that it’s not always open. Philbrook is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays, and 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. The museum is closed for major holidays and every Monday and Tuesday, but there is another museum that’s open more often.