Philbrook Museum of Art

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Philbrook Museum of Art
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Philbrook Museum of Art (the US)
Established1939 (1939)
Location2727 S Rockford Rd, Tulsa, Oklahoma Flag of the United States.svg
Coordinates 36°07′26″N95°58′12″W / 36.1239°N 95.9701°W / 36.1239; -95.9701
DirectorScott Stulen [1]

The Philbrook Museum of Art is an art museum in the historic home of Waite and Genevieve Phillips with expansive formal gardens located in Tulsa, Oklahoma featuring two locations. The main site is located in part in a former 1920s villa, and a satellite facility known as Philbrook Downtown, is found in Tulsa's Brady Arts District. 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.

Art museum Building or space for the exhibition of art

An art museum or art gallery is a building or space for the display of art, usually from the museum's own collection. It might be in public or private ownership and may be accessible to all or have restrictions in place. Although primarily concerned with visual art, art galleries are often used as a venue for other cultural exchanges and artistic activities, such as performance arts, music concerts, or poetry readings. Art museums also frequently host themed temporary exhibitions which often include items on loan from other collections.

Tulsa, Oklahoma City in Oklahoma, United States

Tulsa is the second-largest city in the state of Oklahoma and 45th-most populous city in the United States. As of July 2016, the population was 413,505, an increase of 12,591 over that reported in the 2010 Census. It is the principal municipality of the Tulsa Metropolitan Area, a region with 991,005 residents in the MSA and 1,251,172 in the CSA. The city serves as the county seat of Tulsa County, the most densely populated county in Oklahoma, with urban development extending into Osage, Rogers, and Wagoner counties.

Oklahoma State of the United States of America

Oklahoma is a state in the South Central region of the United States, bordered by Kansas on the north, Missouri on the northeast, Arkansas on the east, Texas on the south, New Mexico on the west, and Colorado on the northwest. It is the 20th-most extensive and the 28th-most populous of the fifty United States. The state's name is derived from the Choctaw words okla and humma, meaning "red people". It is also known informally by its nickname, "The Sooner State", in reference to the non-Native settlers who staked their claims on land before the official opening date of lands in the western Oklahoma Territory or before the Indian Appropriations Act of 1889, which dramatically increased European-American settlement in the eastern Indian Territory. Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory were merged into the State of Oklahoma when it became the 46th state to enter the union on November 16, 1907. Its residents are known as Oklahomans, and its capital and largest city is Oklahoma City.



Philbrook Museum of Art Rotunda Philbrook - Rotunde 1b.jpg
Philbrook Museum of Art Rotunda

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 that resulted in the addition of a Children's Museum in 1949. [2] 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. [2] 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.

American Alliance of Museums non-profit based in Washington, D.C.

The American Alliance of Museums (AAM), formerly the American Association of Museums, is a non-profit association that has brought museums together since its founding in 1906, helping develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and advocating on issues of concern to the museum community. AAM is dedicated to ensuring that museums remain a vital part of the American landscape, connecting people with the greatest achievements of the human experience, past, present and future.

Santa Fe Room Philbrook - Santa Fe Room 1.jpg
Santa Fe Room

In 1990, the museum was expanded by the addition of the 70,000 square feet (6,500 m2) Kravis Wing that included space for a special exhibition gallery, public entry rotunda, museum school, library, the La Villa Restaurant that seats up to 100 people, an expanded museum shop and event space. [3] The Williams Conference Center seats 75 to 80 people and the Patti Johnson Wilson Hall, an auditorium performance hall, seats up to 236 people. [4] On June 14, 2013, Philbrook opened Philbrook Downtown, a satellite facility in Tulsa's Brady Arts District. With 30,000 square feet (2,800 m2) dedicated to modern, contemporary, and Native American art, works on view include pieces by notable 20th-century artists, including Willem de Kooning, Robert Rauschenberg, Clyfford Still, and Georgia O'Keeffe. The upper level of the facility features the Eugene B. Adkins Collection and the Adkins Study Center.

Willem de Kooning Dutch painter

Willem de Kooning was a Dutch American abstract expressionist artist. He was born in Rotterdam and moved to the United States in 1926, becoming an American citizen in 1962. In 1943, he married painter Elaine Fried.

Robert Rauschenberg American artist

Milton Ernest "Robert" Rauschenberg was an American painter and graphic artist whose early works anticipated the pop art movement. Rauschenberg is well known for his "Combines" of the 1950s, in which non-traditional materials and objects were employed in innovative combinations. Rauschenberg was both a painter and a sculptor and the Combines are a combination of both, but he also worked with photography, printmaking, papermaking, and performance.

Clyfford Still American painter

Clyfford Still was an American painter, and one of the leading figures in the first generation of Abstract Expressionists, who developed a new, powerful approach to painting in the years immediately following World War II. Still has been credited with laying the groundwork for the movement, as his shift from representational to abstract painting occurred between 1938 and 1942, earlier than his colleagues like Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, who continued to paint in figurative-surrealist styles well into the 1940s.

The museum's permanent collection encompasses European, American, Native American, Modern and Contemporary Art and Design, African, Asian and Antiquities. The collection has grown steadily with gifts of American Indian pottery and basketry from Clark Field beginning in 1942 and the Roberta Campbell Lawson collection in 1947. While the American and European collection received a boost from Laura Rutherford Clubb who donated paintings in 1947, and further donations from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation in 1961 of Italian Renaissance paintings and sculptures. The Asian, African, and antiquities collections were enhanced by generous gifts from George H. Taber, Pete and Velma Gillert and Lawrence and Herbert Gussman in the succeeding three decades. [2] Today the collection includes works from Giovanni Bellini, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, William Merritt Chase, Leonardo Drew, Arturo Herrera, Charles Loloma, Maria Martinez, Thomas Moran, Pablo Picasso, Fritz Scholder, Tanzio da Varallo, Rachel Whiteread, Kehinde Wiley, and Andrew Wyeth. [5] The Eugene B. Adkins Collection of Native American painting, pottery and jewelry is shared with the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art. [6]

Samuel Henry Kress was a businessman and philanthropist, founder of the S. H. Kress & Co. five and ten cent store chain. With his fortune, Kress amassed one of the most significant collections of Italian Renaissance and European artwork assembled in the 20th century. In the 1950s and 1960s, a foundation established by Kress would donate 776 works of art from the Kress collection to 18 regional art museums in the United States.

Giovanni Bellini 15th and 16th-century Italian Renaissance painter

Giovanni Bellini was an Italian Renaissance painter, probably the best known of the Bellini family of Venetian painters. His father was Jacopo Bellini, his brother was Gentile Bellini, and his brother-in-law was Andrea Mantegna. He was considered to have revolutionized Venetian painting, moving it towards a more sensuous and colouristic style. Through the use of clear, slow-drying oil paints, Giovanni created deep, rich tints and detailed shadings. His sumptuous coloring and fluent, atmospheric landscapes had a great effect on the Venetian painting school, especially on his pupils Giorgione and Titian.

William-Adolphe Bouguereau 19th-century French painter

William-Adolphe Bouguereau was a French academic painter. In his realistic genre paintings he used mythological themes, making modern interpretations of classical subjects, with an emphasis on the female human body. During his life he enjoyed significant popularity in France and the United States, was given numerous official honors, and received top prices for his work. As the quintessential salon painter of his generation, he was reviled by the Impressionist avant-garde. By the early twentieth century, Bouguereau and his art fell out of favor with the public, due in part to changing tastes. In the 1980s, a revival of interest in figure painting led to a rediscovery of Bouguereau and his work. Throughout the course of his life, Bouguereau executed 822 known finished paintings, although the whereabouts of many are still unknown.


Villa Philbrook

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Philbrook Museum of Art Gallery
Villa Philbrook main facade Villa Philbrook.jpg
Villa Philbrook main facade
Garden view of the villa Philbrook.jpg
Garden view of the villa

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 causeing 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. [7]

Italian Renaissance cultural movement

The Italian Renaissance was a period of Italian history that began in the 14th century (Trecento) and lasted until the 17th century (Seicento). It peaked during the 15th (Quattrocento) and 16th (Cinquecento) centuries, spreading across Europe and marking the transition from the Middle Ages to Modernity. The French word renaissance means "Rebirth" and defines the period as one of cultural revival and renewed interest in classical antiquity after the centuries labeled the Dark Ages by Renaissance humanists. The Renaissance author Giorgio Vasari used the term "Rebirth" in his Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects but the concept became widespread only in the 19th century, after the works of scholars such as Jules Michelet and Jacob Burckhardt.

Petroleum naturally occurring flammable liquid

Petroleum is a naturally occurring, yellowish-black liquid found in geological formations beneath the Earth's surface. It is commonly refined into various types of fuels. Components of petroleum are separated using a technique called fractional distillation, i.e. separation of a liquid mixture into fractions differing in boiling point by means of distillation, typically using a fractionating column.

Waite Phillips American businessman

Waite Phillips was an American petroleum businessman who created a fully integrated operation that combined petroleum producing, refining and marketing. With headquarters in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he also developed several office complexes and engaged in banking and ranching. Phillips was a philanthropist for both local Tulsa institutions and national causes. In Tulsa he built a 72-room mansion for his residence, which he later donated to the city; it became the Philbrook Museum of Art. He gave 127,000 acres (510 km2) of his favorite ranch in New Mexico to the Boy Scouts of America, together with an office building as part of its endowment. The ranch is now Philmont Scout Ranch, one of the largest youth camps in the world. Phillips also made a substantial bequest to the University of Southern California, which named a building after him.

The interior of the mansion featured 72 rooms decorated with travertine and marble fireplaces and fountains, floors of teak, walnut and oak and ornate ceilings reminiscent of Italian villas. The main rooms of the house were found on the ground floor. The mansion is centered by the entrance hall, framed by a double staircase, that flows directly into the receiving hall. The hall is separated by a slightly raised cross-corridor with a groin vaulted ceiling painted with Italian Renaissance designs, further defined by twisted Corinthian columns and ironwork. The main features of the receiving hall are the beams and pierced screenwork that appear to be wood, but are actually painted plaster. Also, a two-manual Aeolian pipe organ can be found behind a large tapestry. Flanking the entrance and receiving halls and accessed by the cross-corridor are the dining room and library to the left and the living and music rooms to the right. The dining and living rooms feature heavily carved coffered ceilings, and the wood paneled library is centered by a globe light fixture that reproduces a map from the time of Leonardo da Vinci. The airy music room is highlighted by a wall mural with bobbed-hair flappers in Grecian garb that illustrate four musical tempos: scherzo, andante, rondo and allegro. [7]

Groin vault produced by the intersection at right angles of two barrel vaults

A groin vault or groined vault is produced by the intersection at right angles of two barrel vaults. The word "groin" refers to the edge between the intersecting vaults. Sometimes the arches of groin vaults are pointed instead of round. In comparison with a barrel vault, a groin vault provides good economies of material and labour. The thrust is concentrated along the groins or arrises, so the vault need only be abutted at its four corners.

Corinthian order Latest of the three principal classical orders of ancient Greek and Roman architecture

The Corinthian order is the last developed of the three principal classical orders of ancient Greek and Roman architecture. The other two are the Doric order which was the earliest, followed by the Ionic order. When classical architecture was revived during the Renaissance, two more orders were added to the canon, the Tuscan order and the Composite order. The Corinthian, with its offshoot the Composite, is the most ornate of the orders. This architectural style is characterized by slender fluted columns and elaborate capitals decorated with acanthus leaves and scrolls. There are many variations.

Aeolian Company American manufacturer of player organs, pianos, sheet music, and phonographs; record company

The Aeolian Company was a manufacturer of player organs, pianos, sheet music, and phonographs. They created and operated Vocalion Records from 1917 to 1924.

In the wing to the right of the main block of the house was a sunroom and to the left was the service wing that included the kitchen and servants quarters. On the second floor was the Phillip's private quarters containing four family bedrooms, each with a bathroom, dressing room and sleeping porch, and two guest rooms. A staircase located between the receiving hall and dining room accessed the lower floor leading to the Southwestern rooms and to the porte-cochère. In 1938, the Phillips donated Villa Philbrook and its surrounding gardens to the city of Tulsa, in hopes that the estate would be used for art and cultural purposes. [2] While the principal rooms on the first floor were left virtually untouched, the rest of the space has been remodeled for its use as a public institution.


The museum is situated on 25 acres (93,000 m²) of formal and informal gardens. The expansive grounds contain elaborate gardens inspired by Villa Lante, an Italian country estate north of Rome designed by Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola in 1566. The formal gardens, with its rills and diagonal walks linking the mansion to the rustic pool below, graced with a classical tempietto, are part of the original design and construction. To the south of the property the gardens extending to the summerhouse were conceived later and completed in 2004. They feature native Oklahoma plants and a refurbished creek. [8]



As of 2007, the museum has a staff of 60 and an operating budget of nearly $6 million. [9] 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. [10] Suffolk left in 2015 to lead the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. [11] In 2016, Scott Stulen left his role as a curator at the Indianapolis Museum of Art to become the new Philbrook Executive Director. [12]

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  1. "Staff Directory" . Retrieved 28 February 2017.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Young, Thomas E., "Philbrook Museum of Art Archived 2012-11-19 at the Wayback Machine .," Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture (accessed May 6, 2010)
  3. "Philbrook Wing To Be Funded By Kravis Gift". Tulsa World. Retrieved 26 May 2016.
  4. Philbrook Museum of Art, Green Country, Oklahoma (accessed May 6, 2010).
  5. "Philbrook acquires work from Obama portrait artist Kehinde Wiley". Tulsa World. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  6. White, Kathryn Jenson, "The Jewels in the Towns: Oklahoma's Museums of Fine Arts," (accessed May 6, 2010).
  7. 1 2 Young, Tom (2009). Villa Philbrook.
  8. "Philbrook Gardens" . Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  9. Watts, James D. (2007-03-29), "Philbrook museum names new executive director", Tulsa World
  10. Randy Kennedy (July 29, 2015), Atlanta’s High Museum Names New Director: Randall Suffolk New York Times .
  11. "Randall Suffolk appointed Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr. Director". Retrieved 2017-03-01.
  12. "Philbrook selects innovative new director". Tulsa World. Retrieved 2017-03-01.

Coordinates: 36°07′26″N95°58′12″W / 36.12389°N 95.97000°W / 36.12389; -95.97000