Philbrook Museum of Art – Tulsa, OK
Philbrook Museum of Art is an art museum with expansive formal gardens located in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The museum, which opened in 1939, is located in a former 1920s villa, "Villa Philbrook", the home of Oklahoma oil pioneer Waite Phillips and his wife Genevieve. Showcasing nine collections of art from all over the world, and spanning various artistic media and styles, the cornerstone collection focuses on Native American art featuring basketry, pottery, paintings, and jewelry.
The Philbrook Art Museum, under the guidance of its first director, Eugene Kingman, opened its doors to the public on October 25, 1939, with a permanent art collection made up of works from the Tulsa Art Association and Villa Philbrook. In 1940, studio art classes were initiated and a touring program for school children the following year resulted in the addition of a Children's Museum in 1949. A new museum wing was built in 1969 in response to an increased demand for studio art classes, but the use of this space has since changed. The art museum underwent difficult financial times in the 1980s and a renaissance in the 1990s.
The name changed from the Philbrook Art Center to The Philbrook Museum of Art in 1987 when it was first accredited. In 2009, after a two-year process, Philbrook was reaccredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), one of 286 art museums and 775 museums overall out of the estimated 17,500 museums in the United States.
The original structure of the museum is an Italian Renaissance villa that was the former home of Oklahoma oil pioneer Waite Phillips and his wife Genevieve. Phillips commissioned prominent Kansas City architect Edward Buehler Delk to design the mansion in 1926; construction began the same year by the John Long Company of Kansas City and was completed the following year. Named "Villa Philbrook," the three-story mansion was constructed of steel and a reinforced concrete framework that resulted in minimal remodeling being required to transform the villa into an art museum.
The exterior of the house is stucco that includes ground white marble in the mixture causing it to glitter. The corners are quoined with Kasota limestone, quarried in Minnesota, that resemble Italian travertine. This stonework also decorates the doors and windows. In the rear of the house, a loggia showcasing five arches with Corinthian columns highlights a terrace overlooking the formal gardens. The roof features wide eaves and is covered with oversized Italianate tiles.
As of 2007, the museum has a staff of 60 and an operating budget of nearly $6 million. During the tenure of director Randall Suffolk between 2007 and 2015, the museum reorganized its curatorial and educational departments to emphasize more family-friendly programming, leading to a 63 percent increase in attendance. Suffolk also sharply increased the museum’s operating budget and added 2,800 new works to its permanent collection. Suffolk left in 2015 to lead the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. In 2016, Scott Stulen left his role as a curator at the Indianapolis Museum of Art to become the new Philbrook Executive Director.