OKLAHOMA CITY (April 26, 2024) - The Oklahoma City Museum of Art (OKCMOA) is pleased to announce that a work in its permanent collection will soon be conserved thanks to a generous grant received through Bank of America’s Art Conservation Project. Bank of America chose the Museum’s 1965 acrylic painting on canvas, Khufu, by Sam Gilliam as one of 24 pieces selected to receive funds in 2024. Other notable grantees this year include Claude Monet’s Waterlilies (1914-15) at The Portland Art Museum, Edgar Degas’ Dancer with Bouquets (c. 1890-95) at The Chrysler Museum, and Paul Cezanne’s The Large Bathers (c.1895-1906) at The National Gallery in London.  


“Art is a form of self-expression that gives the viewer insight into what was taking place at the time it was crafted. Bank of America’s Art Conservation Project aims to conserve the historical and cultural context that these pieces provide,” said Tony Shinn, president of Bank of America Oklahoma City. “In partnership with the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, we are proud to continue protecting and sharing inspiring works of art like Sam Gilliam’s Khufu.” 


Born in Tupelo, Mississippi, artist Sam Gilliam (1933-2022) moved to Washington, D.C., in 1962 and quickly became close with members of the Washington Color School. In 1966, Gilliam gave Khufu to the Washington Gallery of Modern Art (WGMA), helping to fill a major gap of Black artists in that collection. OKCMOA’s predecessor, the Oklahoma Art Center, purchased the WGMA’s 154-piece permanent collection, including Khufu, in 1968. The work was last on view in 2018 in the exhibition The New Art: A Milestone Collection Fifty Years Later, which celebrated 50 years since the purchase. Today, Khufu needs conservation due to dents, soiling, and several scratches. 


“We’re very excited about the opportunity to conserve a work that holds so much significance both within our institution and outside of it,” said Maury Ford, OKCMOA’s director of collections and exhibitions. “We hope to have the work sent to the conservator in Houston before June 30, and it will be about a six-month process.” 


Bank of America’s Art Conservation Project is a global program that provides grants to nonprofit cultural institutions to conserve historically or culturally significant works of art that are in danger of deterioration. The grant is part of the bank’s broader effort to help share meaningful pieces and preserve notable art pieces for more people to enjoy. Khufu was the first contemporary artwork created by a Black artist in the original WGMA collection. After its conservation, Khufu will once again become a highlight of the Museum’s permanent collection galleries.  


Bank of America has partnered with the Oklahoma City Museum of Art for more than 25 years to ensure that important works of art are accessible to all through projects such as the Art Conservation Project as well as the Museums on Us program—which has allowed Bank of America cardholders free access during the first full weekend of every month since 2011—and other projects. This is the second grant OKCMOA has received through this international art conservation program; the previously conserved work was Gardner Hale's Triumph of Washington in 2019. 


For more information about OKCMOA’s permanent collection as well as upcoming exhibitions, like Edith Head: Hollywood’s Costume Designer, please visit okcmoa.com.