The Kerr-McGee gallery reopened in February 2014 with new expanded exhibits and all new content and artifacts. Included are exhibits on the steamboat Heroine, the African American experience in Oklahoma, Oklahoma military history, and the oil and gas industry.
On May 6, 1838, a steamboat called Heroine was traveling up the Red River to deliver supplies to Fort Towson in what is now Choctaw County in southeast Oklahoma when it struck a submerged log and sank. Pieces of the ship and some of its contents have been collected and are now on display, 175 years later. Interactive touchscreens, hands-on elements, reconstructed machinery, and excavated artifacts tell the story of the earliest steamboat to be recovered and studied by archaeologists. Visitors will not only get a glimpse of life during this formative period in US history, but also will experience the mystery of the Heroine and how its story was brought to light through archaeological evidence and historical research.
The African American experience is a unique story in Oklahoma. This recently updated exhibit, Realizing the Dream, highlights twelve aspects of this story and features information about extraordinary individuals and presents artifacts representative of the people, places, and events. Several places significant to African American history in Oklahoma have been recreated for visitors to gain insight into spaces occupied by community and Civil Rights movement leaders, such as Richard Lewis's barbershop and Clara Luper's living room.
Power to Grow: The History of Oil and Gas in Oklahoma focuses on the history of the industry in the state from World War II to the present. This era has featured dramatic technological advances, bold innovations, and dynamic individuals and companies willing to take risks. Major aspects of the industry, such as finding, producing, refining and processing, transporting, and distribution, are featured. The histories of important companies, industry leaders, and the people who perform a wide range of jobs are told. The exhibit also highlights the remarkable legacy of the industry, including jobs, tax revenues, philanthropy, and landmarks.
The military exhibit illustrates the US armed forces from the 1830s to the present, the history of non-commissioned officers, and how some military weapons work. Also included are accurate replicas of Civil War-era artillery ammunition crates and artifacts relating to artillery. Two portions are devoted to Lieutenant Colonel Steve Russell and the capture of Saddam Hussein. More changes are planned for this exhibit, such as a World War I interactive that will include a replica trench and hands-on items that will demonstrate the loading and firing procedure for flintlock and Civil War-era muskets.