What do Sam Walton, Reba McEntire, and James Garner have in common? They were born in Oklahoma–Sam in Kingfisher, Reba in McAlester, and James in Norman. All 3 and many other Sooner State natives are honored in the Gaylord-Pickens Oklahoma Heritage Museum (GPOHM) in Oklahoma City. All 3 have also been inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame along with hundreds of others like S. E. Hinton, author of The Outsiders and a Tulsa resident. The Outsiders was published in 1967 when Susan was 17-years-old. It still sells half-a-million copies each year.
There are many, many honorees in the Oklahoma Hall of Fame (OHF) because it has been around since 1927, 2 years before the First Academy Awards ceremony. OHF is now in the former Mid-Continent Life Insurance Building near downtown. The Oklahoma Heritage Association bought the building in 2001 thanks to a gift from Edward L. Gaylord. GPOHM opened in 2007. Another famous Oklahoman, billionaire T. Boone Pickens from Holdenville, contributed generously to the renovations.
Visits should begin with a viewing of “Spirit of the People”, a great 12 minute film. While celebrating what is calls Oklahomans’ unmistakable character and distinctive way of life, Spirit includes travel mag views of this “rugged, beautiful place”and focuses on the talents of many unheralded performers.
Gaylord-Pickens Oklahoma Heritage Museum offers displays on its 2nd and 3rd floors in several galleries and exhibits. Chickasaw Nation Oklahoma Through Its People, 1/3 of the 2nd floor, recognizes the abilities of some not-as-famous Native Americans like Woodrow Wilson Crumbo, a Creek-Potawatami artist and 1978 Oklahoma Hall of Fame inductee whose work is featured above. The 3rd floor contains the Tulsa World Gallery that shows temporary exhibits. The Hall of Fame Gallery is on this floor too.
GPOHM is very upbeat and full of State Pride. Words like high-tech, interactive, celebrate, and optimism are scattered about. If you’re from Oklahoma, this museum would undoubtedly be worthy of a 5 Compass rating. The AAA gives it and 5 other Oklahoma City attractions gems. At the present, Oklahoma City could easily rename itself Renaissance City. Not being from Oklahoma, I’d give it 4 Compasses.