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The Oklahoma History Center

The Oklahoma History Center brings together the fascinating, rich, and colorful history of the 46th state in a state-of-the-art facility. The Oklahoma History Center houses museum exhibits, the Research Center, and offices of the Oklahoma Historical Society. The Oklahoma History Center is located at 800 Nazih Zuhdi Drive, just east of the State Capitol. It opened in November 2005.

The Oklahoma History Center is a Smithsonian Affiliate and the Research Center is a National Archives affiliate.

Representing all 38 American Indian tribes currently associated with Oklahoma, the ONEOK, INC. Gallery offers visitors the opportunity to explore the traditional past of native peoples of Oklahoma, as well as experience contemporary Indian cultures. Using the twentieth-century Indian experience as a bridge between the past and the present, the exhibit offers artifacts, tribal music, photographs, American Indian art, and oral histories from the tribes of Oklahoma.

The E. L. and Thelma Gaylord Foundation Special Exhibits Gallery is host to revolving exhibits heralding Oklahoma’s important citizens and rich heritage. Some exhibits feature all or parts of a single collection while others bring together items from two or more collections to tell a story.

In addition to the galleries, the Oklahoma History Center features other exhibit spaces including the Devon Great Hall’s replica of the world-famous Winnie Mae airplane; the C. A. Vose Sr. Wing displays the Gemini 6 capsule and other Oklahoma-related space artifacts and information; and the Cooper and Gladys West Atrium Wing features the Oklahoma Family Tree.

Empires, explorers, nations, and people are known and defined by their symbols. One measure of the last few hundred years of Oklahoma history are the flags of different nations and peoples that have lived here, claimed the area, and fought for control of Oklahoma’s land, people, and resources. The 14 Flags Over Oklahoma exhibit briefly identifies and interprets some of the most important flags and nations that tell the tale of Oklahoma. This exhibit is made possible by the generous support of OGE Energy Corp.

The flags interpreted here represent the following:

  • Royal Standard of Spain
  • Union Jack of Great Britain
  • Royal Flag of France
  • Standard of the Empire of Spain
  • Standard of France
  • Second National United States Flag
  • Third National United States Flag
  • Flag of the Republic of Mexico
  • First Flag of the Republic of Texas
  • Second Flag of the Republic of Texas
  • Flag of the Choctaw Nation
  • First National Flag of the Confederacy
  • First Oklahoma State Flag
  • Oklahoma State Flag

The Oklahoma History Center Red River Journey is a relaxing one-quarter-mile walking tour that replicates the Red River Valley along Oklahoma’s southern boundary. A wonderful exploration of our state’s historical landmarks, the Red River Journey offers visitors a sample of Oklahoma’s diverse terrains as well as our indigenous trees, flowers, and plants.

The story of oil and gas exploration and discovery is a tale of risk, innovation, fortunes won and lost, spectacular successes, and dramatic challenges. The Devon Oil and Gas Park at the Oklahoma History Center interprets some of the technology that is part of the fascinating history of Oklahoma’s oil industry. Technological innovations in Oklahoma oil fields revolutionized petroleum production worldwide and greatly expanded the industry.

Equipment found in the park explores the drilling, production, and transportation phases of the Oklahoma oil and gas industry. Much of the equipment located in the park was donated to the Oklahoma Historical Society in the mid-1960s in an effort to begin the Mid-Continent Oil Museum. Oklahoma oil fields are part of the huge Mid-Continent Oil Region, which stretches from central Texas across Oklahoma to eastern Kansas.

Gracing the front entrance of the History Center is the sculpture entitled Unconquered. In late 1993 Oklahoma Apache artist Allan Houser conceived a monument for the Apache nation symbolizing their history, pride, and survival. The Apache were among the last tribes to be confined to reservations. In the final year of his life, Houser would refine and complete his vision for the work Unconquered, an image often seen in historic photographs, of two armed Chiricahua warriors proud and fearless as they face their enemies. To Houser, Unconquered symbolized not only Apache history, but that of all American Indian people. Today, Houser is internationally recognized as a preeminent American Indian artist.

Two other pieces are located along the front of the building. The Oklahoma Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) sculpture is a tribute to the more than 100,000 Oklahoma men who served in the CCC safeguarding the natural resources of our nation. An original work of art created by John Gooden, the sculpture is modeled after Reverend Melvin Grant, CCC worker at Camp Wilkerson in Oklahoma from 1940 to 1941.

Monarch at Rest is a larger-than-life bronze buffalo sculpture created by the renowned Enid sculptor Harold T. Holden. Primarily known as a cowboy artist, Holden has been capturing the West in sculptures and paintings for more than thirty years.

The Research Division of the Oklahoma Historical Society is the repository of books, archival materials, and family research records about Oklahoma and its people. Since 1893 the collections have grown to more than 30 million pages of newspapers, 4 million documents on Indian history, 6,000 manuscript collections, 9 million photographs, 10,000 maps, and vital statistics on families that range from US Census records to cemetery and county records for most counties in the state. If a person is trying to build their family tree, a visit to the OHS Research Center is the place to start.

The Oklahoma History Center is open Monday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm. The Research Center is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 4:45 pm. Museum admission is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors age 62 and above, $4 for students, and children five and under are admitted free. There is a special family rate of $18 and a group rate (ten or more visitors) of $5 per person. Admission is free for Oklahoma Historical Society members and active-duty military, veterans, and their immediate family.

The Oklahoma History Center is closed on News Years Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. The Research Center is closed on all state holidays.

For more information contact Larry O’Dell at 405-522-6676 or email at lodell@okhistory.org