City, TU Take Next Step in Historic Partnership Benefiting Gilcrease

Mayor Kathy Taylor and TU President Steadman Upham today announced that an agreement has been reached under which The University of Tulsa will assume management and operations of Gilcrease Museum effective July 1, 2008, if certain conditions are met prior to that date.

In August, it was announced that the City of Tulsa was exploring a partnership with TU to oversee museum operations. On Tuesday, Mayor Kathy Taylor and trustees of the museum approved an agreement, followed today by approval from the TU Board of Trustees and Upham.

Under the terms of the contract, the City of Tulsa will maintain ownership of the museum, collection and property.

“Gilcrease belongs to the citizens of Tulsa and I can’t think of a better partner to assume the role of museum operations than The University of Tulsa,” said Taylor. She noted TU has nationally recognized academic resources in western American history, art history, anthropology and archaeology.

Taylor said the need to address the way Gilcrease is managed has been discussed for many years. Under the current operation, museum functions are split between City of Tulsa employees and the Gilcrease Museum Association employees, a non-profit organization formed to assist the museum with fundraising and marketing activities.

“It has been clear for a long time that a unified management structure was necessary for Gilcrease to reach its full potential,” said Taylor. “We believe this new partnership between two of the nation’s most notable institutions for the study of American history, art and culture will do exactly that.”

Taylor said the Gilcrease Museum Association has provided many critical museum functions, including raising private dollars to fund museum improvements and special exhibitions. “They are to be commended for their stewardship of Gilcrease during the past 20 years,” she said.

TU President Steadman Upham said the University is excited about the opportunities this proposed partnership presents.

“The University of Tulsa is honored by this partnership dedicated to strengthening one of Tulsa’s greatest and most admired assets,” Upham said. “The Gilcrease collections comprise a vast cultural, archaeological, historical and aesthetic resource unlike any other in the world.”

Taylor said there’s been an informal relationship between the two institutions for many years. “This is a mutually beneficial relationship that will provide a boost to Gilcrease and allow it to flourish under the leadership of TU, ensuring the legacy of Thomas Gilcrease and the world class collection will live well into the future,” she said.

Upham said TU and the City of Tulsa will organize teams comprised of employees from both organizations to work together to ensure a smooth transition for museum operations.

“We look forward to playing a role in the advancement of this great museum, the preservation of its treasures, the development of its educational potential, and the affirmation of its position as a crown jewel for the City of Tulsa and a destination for scholars and visitors worldwide,” he said.

Officials from both TU and the City noted that the signed agreement is an historic next step in the process, but a number of conditions must be met prior to July 1, 2008, in order for the contract to commence. These conditions include actions in support of the agreement by the Gilcrease Museum Association and Gilcrease Foundation. In addition, TU officials will spend the coming months determining whether firm financial commitments for museum operations are available to support the initiative.

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