to visit Oklahoma City and want a crash course on our state's history? Are you
a fan of art and culture? An immersive experience in Oklahoma history and art
awaits you at the Oklahoma State Capitol. With more than 200 works of art
adorning its public spaces and four art galleries featuring art by current or
famous Oklahoma artists, the Oklahoma State Capitol offers an unparalleled
perspective of the 46th state. Did I mention that it's free!
Listed as one of USA Today's "10 great places to walk through history at state capitols," the Oklahoma State Capitol is not only a historic work of Neo-Classical architecture and the epicenter of important state policy-making decisions, it is a museum that conveys Oklahoma's epic, one-of-a-kind story to thousands of visitors each year. From pieces that depict the exploration of the land by Europeans in the 1500s to a commemoration of the state's recent centennial in 2007, the artwork offers a thorough and engaging view of state history through the important events, beautiful landscape and exceptional people who define our story.
the month of November, visitors to the Capitol should specifically note two
works of art that are important during the month.
One, "Pro Patria," was the first interior work of art at the Capitol. The solemn painting, comprised of three separate panels, pays tribute to the 2,735 Oklahoma lives lost during the First World War. It was dedicated on Veterans Day, November 11, 1928.
Pro Patria, Thomas Gilbert White, Capitol Art Collection
A second painting, "President Teddy Roosevelt Signing Statehood Proclamation," salutes the day that Oklahoma became a state, November 16, 1907.
President Teddy Rosevelt Sigining Statehood Proclamation, Mike Wimmer, Capitol Art Collection
In addition to the permanent pieces that are located throughout the public spaces of the Capitol, four galleries showcase artwork specifically by Oklahoma artists. Three galleries - the East Gallery, Governor's Gallery, and North Gallery, show exhibitions of artwork by current Oklahoma artists on a rotating, 60-day schedule. The fourth, the Betty Price Gallery, features the State Art Collection, which is comprised of works by some of Oklahoma's most well-known artists, past and present. The collection includes artwork by famed 20th century Pop artist, Ed Ruscha, who is a contemporary of Andy Warhol, and significant Native American artists such as Stephen Mopope, one of the famed "Kiowa Artists" credited with developing the flat contemporary style of Native American painting. There are more than 200 works of art in the State Art Collection, and works in the Betty Price Gallery are displayed on a rotating basis.
To add an educational element to your tour of the Capitol artwork, details about many of the pieces are available on the website of the Oklahoma Arts Council, the state agency that manages the display and care of the historic works. The website includes information about the works and the artists who created them. Lessons and activities are available as well. During your visit, go to arts.ok.gov to access the information.
Also, be sure to stop by the Visitor Center on the Capitol's first floor to pick up a brochure about the Capitol art and architecture that includes anecdotal stories and interesting tidbits about the art, the construction of the Capitol and the history of our state. A guided tour of the Capitol may be available by calling (405) 522-5173.
The Oklahoma State Capitol and its artwork are an essential stop for history and art lovers as well as families looking for an affordable, educational, and awe-inspiring experience.