Posts Tagged ‘exhibit’

The Process of Creating our Animal Art Exhibit

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

by Karen Whitecotton, Curator of Collections, Oklahoma History Center

The History Center is currently partnering with the Oklahoma City Zoo for Enriched: Animal Art from the OKC Zoo a display of eleven pieces of animal art created by various animals from the zoo.  While it sounds pretty tame, the process was amazing and there were a lot of great experiences along the way!  Why zoo art?  There is something incredibly fascinating about seeing a work of art done by an animal and exploring that creative process.  It is a truly unique part of the animal enrichment process.

All artwork created by animals is a part of a process called enrichment.  It includes many other activities besides painting and is intended to mentally and physically stimulate animals.

The exhibit concept started about a year ago when I approached the zoo to inquire about getting a piece of their animal art donated to our art collection.  A small group of us met and discussed the proposal and an exhibit idea was formed.  However, with the Oklahoma @ the Movies exhibit gallery remodel about to start, we had to postpone our plans.  Fast forward to this summer and the exhibit was back on the table.  We planned to feature twelve pieces in the Chesapeake Event Center.  We ended up with eleven pieces in the C .A. Vose Sr. Wing, which allows for more accessibility for educational programming.

This is a favorite picture from the painting sessions. Divet, one of the female Red River Hogs, ran and jumped into the camera to greet Karen. (Photo courtesy of Karen Whitecotton)


Cigar Ribbon Smoking Jacket

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

by Jill Holt, Curator of Textiles

Occasionally, we give behind the scene tours of our museum collection storage areas. The cigar ribbon smoking jacket is one of my favorite artifacts that I like to show visitors on these tours.

During the Victorian era, cigar smoking became a popular pastime for men. Many homes had a private drawing room where men would gather to smoke and visit. Men would don smoking jackets and smoking caps which absorbed the odor of the cigar smoke. During the late 1800s, cigar manufacturers bundled their products in batches of 25 or 50 cigars and tied the bundles with gold silk ribbons on which were printed the manufacturers’ names. Women who did fancy work and quilting found a purpose for these silk ribbons and created quilts, table runners, and smoking jackets from them.

The quilted smoking jacket in our collection is made from gold, yellow, and orange silk ribbons and features a shawl collar. We have several examples of the loose silk cigar ribbons in our collection as well. The vibrant colors of luxurious silk ribbons are transformed into an unusual and outstanding article of clothing, making it one of my personal favorites.



The Von Keller Coverlet

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

by Sherry Massey, Senior Registrar

coverlet1.jpgThe Oklahoma Museum of History has recently acquired a remarkably unique quilt.

The Von Keller Coverlet, as it is lovingly referred to by the donor, Ellen Jonsson, came to her in a family lottery. She “drew the long straw” and the quilt became hers.

The story goes something like this: Dr. Frederick Von Keller moved to Ardmore, Indian Territory, from Vernon, Texas, in 1894. There he opened the community’s first hospital, the Ardmore Sanitarium, in 1901. After that building was destroyed in an explosion, he opened the new Von Keller Hospital in 1917. The Von Kellers had two children and one of the daughters, Beatrice, was one of the earliest female graduates of OU. Beatrice married and had children. At some point, family legend says, Dr. Von Keller accepted the quilt in payment of medical services.

Ms. Jonsson married one of Beatrice’s sons. She tells us, “About 30 years ago, Elaine, Katherine and I were at Grandmother Bea’s home. She was in her seventies at the time. She told us that we were going to have a lottery. We wondered what on earth she had in mind. She came back from the kitchen with three straws concealed in her hand. She said the person drawing the longest straw was going to get something. I drew the longest straw and the ‘something’ was the coverlet. I have always thought that she manipulated the outcome because she knew that I would take care of it and ensure that moths didn’t get to it, that it wasn’t left out or carelessly handled.” We’re so glad Grandmother Bea rigged the lottery!


As you can see from the photos, the quilt is a combination fan block/crazy quilt design. The fans alternate direction every other block and are constructed in typical crazy quilt fashion with the pieces appliquéd to a base block. Floral crewel embroidery embellishes the background above each fan with the exception of a swan on one block and the words “Fancy Work” on another. The embroidery is excellent with even stitching and texture. The foundation squares are of striped shirting. The fan blades are made from fabric typically used in suits, dresses and shirts with some satins and wools. Each fan point is velvet. There is no batting or backing; however, there is a binding made from one of the suiting fabrics. Because there is no batting or traditional backing, ‘coverlet’ may be the more appropriate term, after all. The maker did not sign or date the piece. An appraisal has dated it at 1885-1899. It is in remarkably good condition, with no major damage.

This is just one of the many fine quilts entrusted to the care of the Oklahoma Historical Society. We will continue to highlight them in future blogs, so check back often!


Chinese Dragon Robe

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009


by Mary Lee, Assistant Registrar

I love Chinese Dragon Robes. Combining the inherent coolness of dragons with rich color, exquisite detail and an excess of symbolism, they present a visual overload that always attracts my attention. Working at the Oklahoma History Center I never expected to find a dragon robe in our textile collection. I was so excited by the chance to physically examine this robe that I lost control and my obsessive tendencies overwhelmed me, resulting in more information and photographs than needed for a normal blog entry. Acknowledging that everyone does not share my fascination with dragon robes, I have omitted the section where I counted all of the stitches in the dragon’s scales and told the origin of every symbol on the robe. I hope you appreciate this concession and are not afraid to continue reading. (more…)

Civil War Quilt, made by Stephen A. Lewis, 1864

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

by Sherry Massey, Senior Registrar

Quilt Made by Stephen A. LewisDenzel D. Garrison, former Oklahoma State Senator and OHS Board President, has graciously donated the quilt made by his great grandfather, Stephen A. Lewis. (more…)

Holiday Attire

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

by Jill Holt, Curator of Textiles

christmas-hat-3.jpgHoliday inspired clothing has been popular in America for several decades. Two examples in the textile collection of the Oklahoma Museum of History are a novelty Christmas hat and a Christmas dress. (more…)

Oklahoma Celebration 2000 Quilt

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

by Sherry Massey, Senior Registrar

oklahoma2000quilt3.jpgThe Oklahoma Celebration 2000 quilt was created in response to an international competition celebrating the millennium, sponsored by the American Quilters Society, Paducah, Kentucky.  The contest’s theme was Memories & Fantasies, featuring either a look backward at the 20th Century or forward to the 21st.  The Oklahoma Celebration 2000 quilt was a state winner and was among the 236 semifinalists selected for exhibition in Nashville, Tennessee, at the A.Q.S. 2000 Quilt Exposition in September 2000.  The quilt was also awarded ribbons at the 32nd Annual Quilt Show of the National Quilt Association in June 2001 and the 2001 Quilt Show of the Central Oklahoma Quilters Guild in August 2001. (more…)

First State Flag

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

by Jill Holt, Curator of Textiles

firstflag21.jpgOklahoma became a state on November 16, 1907. The first state flag was adopted in 1911. It featured a five-point white star edged in blue centered on a field of red. The number 46 was in the center of the star in recognition of Oklahoma being the 46th state admitted to the Union. According to the Chronicles of Oklahoma, the first flag was dubbed the “red rag of sedition” and was viewed in a negative manner following the Russian Revolution of 1917. (more…)