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Oklahoma Department of Commerce

The Art Life

Thriving art districts, 300+ museums and a host of stellar performing arts venues make Oklahoma a lure for any art lover.

Oklahoma is a culture magnet, welcoming art lovers and culture creators to its thriving art districts, timeless museums and world-class theaters. A tour of this state reveals the shared musicality and unique culture that fuses performance art, music, festivals, a varied heritage and a love for the Sooner State.

Art lives in the state of Oklahoma. From Shakespeare in the Park to the trendy Plaza District in Oklahoma City, there’s no shortage on showcases of culture. The art districts offer chic restaurants, live entertainment, transcendent museums and a culture like no other. Oklahoma City’s Paseo Arts District and the Brady Arts District of Tulsa dominate the art scene with hip and visionary artisans.

One of the longest established communities in Tulsa, the Brady Arts District possesses a rich history. Some of the district’s iconic landmarks include the Brady Theater and Cain’s Ballroom. Over time, this district has evolved into a creative, community-driven engine of the Tulsa economy. With a variety of retail and service shops, restaurants, bars, galleries, museums and historic music venues, the experience is anything but mundane.

Home to 17 galleries and more than 60 artists, the Paseo Arts District is a breeding ground for artistic ability. Developed in 1929, this vibrant neighborhood is filled with street art, Spanish revival architecture, classic American fare and all the thrill of the enlightened spirit. The community has been reinvigorated by a vibrant group of artists, leaders and art enthusiasts.

If engaging in the act of artistry isn’t your thing, there’s lots to do for those who wish to only appreciate. Home to more than 300 museums, each one offering a glimpse into some part of the state’s history and culture, these museums span everything from the Old West to space exploration.

The Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center in Oklahoma City is dedicated to preserving art and creativity for the community it serves, offering progressive and innovative art exhibits year-round and a variety of classes and workshops for adults and children. The museum enhances the lives of tens of thousands of people and values a lifetime appreciation of contemporary artwork.

But you can’t skip over the past. The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum takes visitors back to the days of old. Allowing them to relish in a history and culture that is unique to the state, the museum collects, preserves and exhibits an internationally renowned collection of Western art and artifacts. Founded in 1955, the exhibition hall also sponsors educational programs centering on the American West.

The Sam Noble Museum of Natural History in Norman, is also brimming over with cultures of the past, not to mention the world’s tallest dinosaur who just happens to be an Oklahoma native. Filled with a wealth of knowledge about the state’s natural resources and human cultural heritage, the award-winning museum is dedicated to building an understanding of the world through collection-based research, interpretation and education. More than 4 billion years of Oklahoma’s natural history are instilled in thousands of artifacts from the collections on display in 50,000 square feet of public galleries.

The Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur also works to preserve a portion of Oklahoma’s history. Incorporating nature, heritage and life, the exhibits at this center embody the spirit and creativity of the Chickasaw people. The museum features natural architecture and interactive exhibits that preserve and celebrate Chickasaw history and culture.

There’s no shortage on art appreciation and culture preservation, but performing arts are just as prevalent throughout Oklahoma. Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park is a popular attraction for culture enthusiasts and thespians. Performances take place at the Myriad Botanical Gardens Water Stage in Oklahoma City, and the thriving theater company produces riveting reimagining of the great works of William Shakespeare. The performances help to enhance the community culturally and economically.

With professional and community theaters of all sizes, the state is enriched by various performances. Another landmark performing arts company, The Pollard Theatre in Guthrie was founded with the goal of producing a wide variety of quality theatrical experiences. The theater emphasizes creative story-telling and produces at least six plays and musicals each year.

The Tulsa Opera, formed in 1948, is ranked among the 10 favorite regional opera companies in the US. The opera offers stellar traditional opera performances as well as extensive education and outreach statewide. The Tulsa Ballet touches more than 40,000 people across Oklahoma, blending classical dance with dramatic theater. The Tulsa Opera and The Tulsa Ballet offer more than just performances to the people of Tulsa; both help to enrich the lives and the community as a whole.

Oklahoma takes its culture, heritage and artistic expression very seriously. But arts and culture are about more than appreciating the past; they’re about building community and enhancing quality of life through creativity. Oklahoma’s art scene will continue to grow and feed the starving artist in all of its communities.

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