Monday, November 2, 2015

Route 66-Tulsa Museums


  The Philbrook Museum of Art is three in one –  art collection,  magnificent house and beautiful gardens. The museum is the former mansion home of Waite and Genevieve Phillips which they donated to the city in 1938 to be used as an art museum. The art collection has a little bit of everything – American, Asian. European, African, Native American, antiquities and contemporary.



The mansion has been kept original as much as possible.


  The museum is accessible. Small lifts provide access for two levels that have a few steps but other levels use ramps that are very steep. The gardens are terraced and have paved paths with switchbacks. It’s possible to see all of the gardens but save some energy for pushing back up. It’s also a bit of a push up from the RV parking spot to the museum entrance.

   The main parking lot is the top level of a garage which can not support the weight of large vehicles. A sign requests that RVs and buses be parked along the street. All streets around the museum are marked “No Parking” so we assumed that the sign indicated that we should park along the street that led to the bottom level of the parking garage even though it meant parking across several spaces. It must have been okay because no one said anything about it.


   The Gilcrease Museum, like the Philbrook was built with oil money, however, Thomas Gilcrease put most of his money and energy into collecting western American art. His house is modest and is not opened to tour. The art collection is impressive. The museum rambles a bit so use the map to make sure that you don’t miss anything.




   The museum is accessible. The RV parking area is down a level so pushing up a fairly steep hill is necessary. We visited the gardens near the museum which are accessible with paved paths. Other sections of the gardens are supposed to be accessible but they are located in a hollow and we didn’t see any good access point.


  The permanent exhibits in the Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art are historical exhibits rather than art exhibits. The Holocaust exhibit examines prejudice, racism and the build up of events in Nazi Germany that culminated in concentration camps and the death of 11 million Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, disabled people, and Roma. The exhibits on the second floor cover early Jewish history, the Jewish community in Tulsa, Jewish practices, ceremonies, holidays, and overall heritage.



  The museum is accessible but the Holocaust exhibit has additional information on flat panels that pull out and are positioned too high to be easily read.

  The parking lot is large enough for RVs.


    Woody Guthrie was born in Oklahoma and spent a good portion of his life traveling along Route 66, singing songs about the people and places, hard times and the fights for justice. Through photographs and audio programs the Woody Guthrie Center covers Woody’s life, music and artwork. Woody’s influence on other musicians and songwriters is also covered.


   The museum is accessible.

    Two hour parking is on the street. Spaces are not marked so we paid the hourly rate of $1.00.

  After visiting the Guthrie Center take a short walk to the Sonic Center of the Universe. We tried it but didn’t hear an echo.



  The Tulsa Historical Society and Museum has exhibits about specific events and aspects of Tulsa but doesn’t give an in-depth account of the city’s history.


  Don’t miss the Tulsa Garden Center located next door to the museum.



   The museum is accessible. The gardens are mostly accessible. The rose garden is terraced and the lower levels do not have access ramps.

   Parking lots with plenty of room for RVs are located between the museum and gardens. The entry way off of the street is a bit tight.


  Tulsa has two small parks memorializing sad chapters of city’s history.

  The sculpture in Creek Council Oak Park represents the ceremonial fire that the Creek Indians kindled in 1836 when they arrived at their new home after surviving the Trail of Tears, a forced march from their homeland in Alabama and Georgia. During the Civil War some Creeks sided with the Confederacy. At the end of the war new treaties were written which resulted in the lost of large portions of land that had been tribal land. Then Curtis Act of 1898 abolished tribal governments, split Indian land into allotments and opened 90 million acres of land pervious owned by Indians to white settlement. Somewhere along the way the council oak land was lost. In 1960 it was slated to become a parking lot but was saved by the Creek Nation and several individuals who donated it to the city.

  Parking is available along the side streets.


  The John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park was built as a memorial to the people who survived a terrible and hidden part of Tulsa’s history. Tulsa was oil rich in the early 1900s. Everyone benefited from the jobs and money, even the segregated black neighborhood of Greenwood in the northeast section of the city.Ten thousand people and numerous businesses including grocery stores, clothing stores, restaurants, medical and law offices, and two newspapers filled the 35 block area.

  This was also a time of growing racism, a re-emergence of the Ku Klux Klan and lynchings.  On May 31, 1921 a Tulsa newspaper printed a sensationalized account of an incident from the day before when a young black man was accused of assaulting a young white woman. Tensions in the city escalated. Men from Greenwood armed themselves to prevent a lynching. Men from Tulsa marched to Greenwood. Shots were fired and a riot broke out. By the time it was over 100s of people had been killed and the entire black business district and many private homes were destroyed by fire.

   We didn’t see the whole park because it was cold and raining.

   Parking is available in a small lot or along the street.


  Tulsa isn’t very RV friendly. Many of the streets are very narrow so try to stay on the main streets or interstates. Most of the Walmarts are neighborhood markets and not suitable for overnight parking. We stayed at the River Spirit Casino which is a little far away from the city but a easy drive along Riverside Drive. The lot farthest south is the best one for large vehicles but due to construction work it wasn’t opened when we visited. We parked in the lot just north of this lot which has a turn that is very narrow and tight. After entering the entrance driveway continue to the end and curve around the island to avoid the narrow turn. The parking lot is flat and it’s fairly quiet. The River Parks Trail, with a paved bike trail and a separate paved walking trail that runs along the river for ten miles, can be accessed from the casino lot.




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