The Kerr-McGee Gallery features exhibits on the steamboat Heroine, the African American experience in Oklahoma, Oklahoma military history, and the oil and gas industry.
Realizing the Dream
The African American experience is a unique story in Oklahoma. Realizing the Dream highlights twelve aspects of this story. The exhibit features information about extraordinary individuals and presents artifacts representative of the people, places, and events. 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.
In May of 1838, the Heroine was navigating the Red River on its way to deliver much-needed supplies to the soldiers at Fort Towson. Just twenty minutes from its destination, the Heroine hit a snag and quickly sank. The passengers survived, but the supplies and the ship were lost.
In 1999 the OHS and the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University were notified that the remnants of a ship had been exposed. Combining efforts and resources, these institutions excavated the site, identified the steamboat, and conserved many pieces of the structure.
Although the majority of the superstructure of the Heroine had long since disintegrated, the surviving components were used to create a representation of the original vessel. Among the artifacts found in the wreckage were personal items of the crew and passengers including articles of clothing, foodstuff, and pieces of equipment.
The Heroine consisted of two decks: the lower deck that contained the mechanical and operational components and the upper deck with living quarters and a dining area. These areas have been reconstructed to offer visitors a vivid reproduction of this colorful chapter of our history. Touchscreens, hands-on elements, reconstructed machinery, and excavated artifacts tell the story of the steamboat Heroine.
Power to Grow: The History of Oil and Gas in Oklahoma
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 included 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 role of 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.