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Philbrook Museum of Art Pulls Back Curtain on Tulsa Treasures

Original exhibition offers peek at rarely seen private collections

March 5, 2020 (Tulsa, Okla.) Every city is a museum. Every home is a gallery in that museum. But we rarely see the contents of those galleries. The original Philbrook exhibition Tulsa Treasures: Private Collections in Public examines the practice of collecting through the eyes and objects of our neighbors, friends, and fellow cultural institutions (OKPOP, Cain’s Ballroom, and The Church Studio). Tulsa Treasures runs March 15-May 24, 2020.

Yonezawa Toys Ltd. (Manufacturer, Japanese, c. 1955–1991) and Louis Marx & Co. Ltd. (Distributor, American, 1919–1980). Mr. Mercury, 1963. Tin and plastic, 13 1/2 x 7 3/4 x 8 1/4″. Buck Family.

This exhibition aims to demystify the art of collecting by unveiling some of the most fascinating privately owned objects (Andy Warhol prints, mid-century toy robots, custom Nike sneakers, Leon Russell’s hats ) from across our community.

“By exploring the depth of personal tastes and approaches of dozens of local collectors, Tulsa Treasures makes clear that there is no right or wrong approach to collecting,” says Philbrook Chief Curator Catherine Whitney.


PRESERVING THE PAST: Whether it is the craftsmanship, beauty, regional histories, or nostalgia associated with Art Deco collectibles,  Leon Russell’s hats, musical instruments, vintage toys, or autographed band photographs from Cain’s Ballroom,  preserving objects from the past honors our cultural legacies and allows us to remember and connect with stories from the past.

SUPPORTING ARTISTS (LOOKING FORWARD): Supporting artistic production is a primary motivator for many collectors, who play a vital role in sustaining — and growing — any community’s cultural ecosystem. The art on display in this section underlines the importance of supporting artists and will range greatly from photorealist painting, portraits, to abstract and conceptual art by artists including P.S. Gordon, Katsuyo Aoki, Anita Fields, William Kentridge, Laura Willits, Frank Bowling, Jon Eric Riis, Connie Segall, Suh Jeong Min, Jeff Dodd, Shan Goshorn, Amy Hill, and Benjamin Harjo Jr.

ART FOR ART’S SAKE: Many art collectors aim to fill their homes with objects that bring them joy, whether for sentimental reasons or just based on personal taste. Work by Andy Warhol, Alexandre Hogue, Diego Rivera, French majolica ceramics, and an 18th-century French desk with connections to Marie Antoinette are among the works on display.

PASSION PROJECT: This section reveals how the objects we collect (sometimes obsessively) help to define who we are. Whether it’s tiny ceramic dogs, vintage comic books, Air Jordans, or Mexican milagros, these objects can offer visual, emotional, or intellectual respite from the mundane or offer humor, comfort, or insight into other times, places, or social issues. Collections from local artists and entrepreneurs including Venita Cooper, Jean Ann and Tom Fausser, P.S. Gordon, Cynthia Marcoux, Joel Daniel Phillips, Otto Duecker and May Yang highlight the many ways people draw from their own personal collections as both artistic and professional inspiration.


Title: Tulsa Treasures: Private Collections in Public

Dates: March 15-May 24, 2020

Location: Philbrook (2727 S. Rockford Rd.)


About Philbrook

At Philbrook Museum of Art, we are committed to being Tulsa’s most welcoming and engaging cultural institution. Through bold action and strategic investment, we create a space for new ideas, diverse stories and perspectives, and social connection. Housed in the former Midtown home (built 1927) of Genevieve and Waite Phillips, the Philbrook Collection has grown to over 14,500 objects with a focus on American, Native American, and European art. Philbrook Museum of Art opened on October 25, 1939, with the goal of being an institution “housing, preserving, and displaying therein works of art, literature, relics and curios, including those representative of the native North American Peoples.” Serving over 160,000 visitors annually, Philbrook shines a light on Tulsa’s storied and complex past while building a diverse and creative vision of the city’s future.