Holmberg Hall @ The University of Oklahoma: Norman, OK

Hey friend! Welcome back to another post! Today, we’re talking about the historic Holmberg Hall located on the University of Oklahoma (OU) campus in Norman, Oklahoma. Students across several generations have honed their skills as performers in this building and continue to do so today. They have gone on to become singers, actors, dancers, and so much more. Former OU President, David Boren even called Holmberg Hall, “an Oklahoma treasure and a monument to the importance of fine arts.” Let’s go see if this holds true!

*All photos of Holmberg Hall were take on the University of Oklahoma Campus in Norman, Oklahoma. All other images used in this article are cited in each picture caption.

History of the Building

“The Auditorium” was built in 1918, but was later rechristened “Holmberg Hall” in 1938 to honor Fredrik Holmberg. He was the first Dean of the College of Fine Arts and a Distinguished Professor of Music. Holmberg passionately advocated for fine arts education in Oklahoma.

The architecture follows the Cherokee Gothic Style, combining classic gothic architecture with influence from the American Indian tribes of Oklahoma. “Cherokee Gothic Style” was coined by Frank Lloyd Wright after he visited the University of Oklahoma. This style can been seen in many of the buildings on campus, but this article focuses on Holmberg Hall.

Can we take a minute to admire the turreted towers and the large wooden doorways of Holmberg Hall. I mean, the picture below doesn’t do the building justice. It truly is beautiful!

I visited the University of Oklahoma campus on a Sunday afternoon during Christmas Break before the Bedlam Wrestling match, so the buildings on campus weren’t open. But after reading descriptions from the website, I would love to go back someday and see the inside of the building! I can only imagine how pretty it is 🙂

From what I’ve read online, the inside of the building is just as beautiful as the outside. An article from OU describes the inside of the building as follows:

“Crimson carpet and cream walls sweep through the lobby with statues, paintings and unique photographs that showcase the impressive history of the building. A colorful mural anchors the lobby and includes an expansive frieze depicting a number of the distinguished guests to have visited the historic hall.”

University of Oklahoma Website

Wow! That sounds absolutely stunning, but there’s more to the inside of the building. The performance hall seats 677 people and is the only European-style hall in Oklahoma. (For those of you wondering what that looks like – think along the lines of a European opera house.)

Renovations & A New Name

Holmberg Hall underwent a large renovation beginning in 2002 and was completed in 2005. It cost several million dollars – $12.2 million coming from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation and $5.8 million coming from university funding. The performance hall was restored, the practice rooms were renovated, and a dance wing was added to the facility. Other parts of the hall were renovated as well including the stage tower, orchestra pit, and parts of the stage. Finally, The dome ceiling was restored to its former glory.

Thanks to the large donation, the building and added facilities were renamed the Donald W. Reynolds Performing Arts Center. But many people still refer to it as Holmberg Hall because that’s what it has called for so many years. Remember, the building was christened “Holmberg Hall” in 1938!

Famous Visitors & Notable Events

Holmberg Hall has hosted several famous visitors over the years – former US President William Howard Taft, Louis Armstrong, and many more. Keep reading to see who else visited OU’s campus, when they visited, and why they came to Norman!

Former US President William Howard Taft visited the Holmberg Hall in 1920 to give the lecture “Our Place Among the Nations.” This talk was a part of the Norman Chamber of Commerce lecture series. Taft had been the 27th President of the United States from 1909-1913. So, it was pretty cool that he visited Norman for the lecture series.

Louis Armstrong, the jazz legend, visited Holmberg Hall on a few different occasions. He was invited to campus to perform his famous jazz music – I would have loved to hear him play. I bet those were some awesome performances!

Bud Wilkinson the OU football coach received the national trophy in Holmberg Hall. Wilkinson led the Sooners for seventeen years and had a winning record. The University of Oklahoma football team won the national championship in 1950, 1955, and 1956.

David L. Boren gave his acceptance speech in 1994 when becoming the University of Oklahoma’s next president. Boren had previously been a U.S. Senator. Then in a fitting end to a chapter in OU’s history, Boren returned to Holmberg Hall in 2017 to announce his plans to retire as the President of the University of Oklahoma after serving for 23 years.

Did you know that Holmberg Hall celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2018?!

Concluding Thoughts

Holmberg Hall is an absolutely beautiful building. The architecture and attention to detail is impressive. Swing by the building if you are ever at the University of Oklahoma and while you’re near Holmberg Hall go ahead and make a stop at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art! Read my post about that museum next!

Happy Traveling! I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂


560 Parrington Oval 
Norman, OK 73019 


Holmberg Hall Celebrates 100th Anniversary – OU

Holmberg Hall at University of Oklahoma as active as ever at 100 by K.S. McNutt for The Oklahoman

WILKINSON, CHARLES BURNHAM (1916–1994) – Oklahoma Historical Society

*Please click on image captions for links to photographs.

Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art: Norman, OK

Hey friend! Welcome to another post! Today, we are looking at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art in Norman, Oklahoma. This is a really cool art museum located on the campus of the University of Oklahoma (OU). There is over 40,000 square feet of exhibition space that features artworks from around the world!

* All images were taken inside or outside of the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art in Norman, Oklahoma.

Museum History

The Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art has an interesting history. The collection began as the University of Oklahoma Museum of Art in 1936. Oscar Jacobson was the first director of the museum and the collection was first housed in Jacobson Hall. A permanent facility was built in 1971 with generous contributions by Mr. and Mrs. Fred Jones who wanted to honor their late son’s legacy. Fred Jones Jr. had been killed in a plane crash during his final year at the University of Oklahoma. The Museum would be christened the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art in 1992.

New collections have been acquired throughout the years as the museum has expanded. The collection contains pieces from around the world! The Lester Wing was added to the museum in 2005 to display more pieces as they were acquired. The Stuart Wing opened in October 2011 for the same purpose.


The collection at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art contains over 20,000 pieces ranging in date from the 16th century to present. The artists are from around the world! The collections at the museum are broken into 6 broad categories: Featured Collections, European Art, Art of the Americas, Asian Art, Contemporary Art, and Photography. Each broad category has several categories within, so, I recommend checking out their website HERE for more information. There’s also an option to take a virtual tour of the museum if you are interested!


When I visited the museum in December 2021, the following exhibitions were on display:

  • A Life in Looking
  • Patrick Nagatani: Nuclear Enchantment
  • Weitzenhoffer French Impressionism Collection
  • Reinstallation of the Permanent Collection
  • Eugene B. Adkins Collection
  • Art Since 1960
  • Icons from the McGhee Collection

The Museum Mission Statement is as follows: “Through its growing collections, diverse exhibitions, and programs, the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art creates opportunities for the University family, the people of Oklahoma, and our national and international audiences to derive knowledge, understanding, and enjoyment from the visual arts.”

My Favorite Pieces

My favorite collection was the Aaron M. and Clara Weitzenhoffer Collection. This is one of the largest collections of French Impressionism that has been given to a public university. There were 22 paintings and 11 works on paper in the collection donated by Clara Weitzenhoffer. This collection contains works from Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Vincent Van Gogh, and many more. I admire the work of the four previously named artists and was very happy to see their works on display in Oklahoma (of all places)!

My favorite piece in this museum was Edgar Degas’ “Dancer at the Bar (Danseuse à la barre), c. 1885.” I have always loved the work of Degas, especially his series on the dancers.

Claude Monet’s “Riverbank at Lavacourt (La Berge à Lavacourt), 1879″ was a landscape piece that I liked. The colors in this piece are so peaceful!

There were 2 Pierre-Auguste Renoir painting that I liked as well: “Chrysanthemums, n.d.” and “Les Roses, 1878.” I have always loved flower paintings and really like the colors chosen for the two pieces below.

Vincent Van Gogh’s “Portrait of Alexander Reid, c. 1887″ is also on display. It is done in typical Van Gogh style and I think it’s really cool that it is on display in Oklahoma.

I also liked the portrait of Sitting Bull created by Andy Warhol! I had done a little bit of research about the museum before visiting, but I didn’t run across the Warhol piece until I was walking through the galleries – it was a pleasant surprise.

This museum also had a Frederic Remington piece! For more information on Remington pieces, please see my posts about The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum or the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art.

There was also a miniature replica of the Pioneer Woman statue on display. The large version of this statue is located in Ponca City in front of the Pioneer Woman Museum.

Concluding Thoughts

This was a really cool art museum to visit! I was pleasantly surprised with how many big name European artists they had on display. I also loved the display of art from North American artists and Indigenous peoples. Also, the museum security guards and front desk staff were exceptionally polite and very knowledgable! I hope you’ll go visit this museum in Norman!

Happy Traveling! I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂


555 Elm Ave

Norman, OK 73019

TRAVEL TIP: Admission to the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art is FREE!


Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art – Website