Museums to Visit in Oklahoma City!

Hey there, welcome to my blog! My name is Kaitlyn and I have a passion for sharing history. I have a master’s degree in American history and write about history class tips and museum adventures.

This post includes some of my favorite museums and historic sites to visit in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. For more information about each individual museum, please click on the blog links at the end of each section. There is a lot more information and links to the museum websites in those posts. Let’s get started!

The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. You’ll find Western history, Native American history, art, and so much more in this museum. A few of my favorite galleries include the rodeo gallery, the entertainment gallery, and the military history gallery. There is also a large, educational playground outside that is great for families with kids or cool to just walk around!

For more information, see my longer blog post: National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum

First Americans Museum

The First Americans Museum is the newest museum in OKC and talks about Native American history. I learned so much on this trip and hope you’ll go visit!

For more information about this museum, see my longer blog post: First Americans Museum

American Banjo Museum

A banjo museum? Yes, there’s an entire museum dedicated to banjos in Bricktown. There are hundreds of banjos on display and all have a unique story. Many of the instruments have intricate designs which are amazing. Personally, I loved looking at all of the designs on the banjos!

For more information, see my longer blog post: American Banjo Museum

Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame and Jim Thorpe Museum

I LOVE sports. So, I knew I had to pay a visit to the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame and Jim Thorpe Museum. It’s right next door to the Chickasaw Brickton Ballpark and even has a deck you can walk out on that overlooks the field. It was so cool!

For more information about sports heroes in Oklahoma, see my longer blog post: Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame and Jim Thorpe Museum

99’s Museum of Women Pilots

Women’s history is one of my absolute favorite topics to study. When I found out about the 99’s Museum of Women Pilots in OKC, I knew I had to go! This museum is located on the grounds of the Will Rogers Airport – so you can see the planes while driving by! This museum even has items that belonged to Amelia Earhart – go check it out!

For more information about female pilots and their history, see my longer blog post: 99’s Museum of Women Pilots

Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum and Memorial

Visiting the Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum and Memorial is a cool experience. I remember going once as a child and seeing all of the firetrucks! As an adult, it’s humbling to walk through the museum and see all of the equipment and learn about the history of firefighting. The Memorial outside the museum is beautiful as well.

For more information, see my longer blog post: Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum

The American Pigeon Museum and Library

The American Pigeon Museum explores the history of pigeons. They also have real pigeons inside the museum and out back!

For more information, see my longer blog post: The American Pigeon Museum

OKC Memorial

For more information, see my longer blog post: (FORTHCOMING, I visited the OKC Memorial and am currently working on my longer blog post. Thank you for being patient.)

OKC Museum of Art

For more information, see my longer blog post: (FORTHCOMING, I am working on writing a blog post about the OKC MOA!)

Concluding Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed looking through all of these super cool historic sites and museums in Oklahoma City! Make sure to use this post when you plan your next trip to OKC because you don’t want to miss out on these cool activities.

If you have any questions about the places I visited, please feel free to send me a message on my contact page.

Happy traveling, friend! I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂

The American Pigeon Museum: Oklahoma City, OK

Hey friend! Welcome back to another post! Today, we are talking about the American Pigeon Museum located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Did you know that 32 pigeons received the Dickin Medal of Honor during World War II? Keep reading to learn more about this award and the museum that explains the history and importance of pigeons. Let’s get started!

*All photos were taken at the American Pigeon Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Museum History

The American Homing Pigeon Institute (AHPI) was founded in 1973 as a way to honor pigeons and their legacy. It would later be renamed the American Pigeon Museum and Library (APM&L). The land the museum sits on was purchased in 1993. A new building was built on the property in 2013 to house the museum – it’s a larger building which has allowed more of the collection to be placed on display. The collection is pretty impressive if you ask me!

Exhibits

Pigeon History Around the World

The first recorded image of a pigeon dates back to 3000 BC in Iraq – that’s a long time ago! Fast forward a few years to 1600 AD and pigeons were being transported to other countries. In 1606, French settlers brought the Rock Dove to Port Royal, Nova Scotia introducing the bird to the New World. (1600-1900 AD Information Sign in the Museum) Fast forward another 2 centuries and there are several recordings of pigeons in the nineteenth century.

Pigeons in War

The War History exhibit was my favorite exhibit at this museum. It was really interesting to see how pigeons were used in various wars. The World War II section explained how pigeons were used to transport messages. Pigeons have also been used by the Coast Guard to deliver messages!

World War I

World War I began in 1914 and the United States joined the war in April 1917. By July 1917, General John J. Pershing was sending cablegrams asking for two pigeon specialists and 12 enlisted experts. He also wanted to purchase 500 pairs of Homing Pigeons for breeding. He asked for an additional 1,000 pigeons that had been hatched in that year to be sent to the American Army in France. The pigeons were successful in delivering their messages 95% of the time! “The most famous pigeons used by the Allied Forces at this time were The Mocker, President Wilson, Spike, Big Tom, Colonel’s Lady, Kaiser, and Cher Ami to name a few.” (World War I Information Sign in the Museum)

World War II

Pigeons were once again used in World War II. Read the stories of Otto Meyer and Maria Dickin to learn more about their roles with the pigeons in the war effort.

Otto Meyer

Otto Meyer (1905-1991) was an US Army Major during World War II. He was put in charge of the US Army’s world-wide pigeon breeding and training program. Meyer was soon promoted to Commander of the US Army Pigeon Service Agency. He oversaw 3,000 soldiers and 54,000 pigeons!

His favorite pigeon was named Kaiser who lived to be 32 years old. Kaiser served in both World War I and World War II. G.I. Joe was another one of Meyer’s pigeons. He received the Dickin Medal of Honor for saving 1,000 Allied troops by delivering a message in time for them to move.

Otto Meyer continued working with pigeons after WWII. He was the civilian technical advisor of the Signal Corps pigeon breeding and training program. (Otto Meyer Information Sign in the Museum)

Maria Dickin & the Dickin Medal of Honor

Maria Dickin (Sept. 22, 1870 – Jan. 3, 1951) was upset after witnessing the plight of sick animals in East London during World War II. She established the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA). Later, she created the Dickin Medal to recognize the service of animals during WWII. Dickin said the animals had to have demonstrated “conspicuous gallantry or devotion to duty while serving or associated with any branch of the Armed Forces or Civil Defence Units.” (Maria Dickin Case in the Museum)

From 1943-1949, 54 Dickin Medals were awarded to animals for their service in WWII. Among the recipients were 32 pigeons, 18 dogs, 3 horses, and 1 cat. The pigeons received the award for delivering messages!

Maria Dickin & the Dickin Medal of Honor

Pigeon Racing

Pigeon racing began around 1875 in the United States and many people still participate today. The sport is especially popular in New York and New Jersey, but it must be noted that pigeon racing takes place in multiple countries around the world.

Pigeon racing is a sport where Racing Homer pigeons are taken to a certain location and then they are released to return home. They will travel 60-600 miles in a given race. The pigeons are specifically trained for these kind of races. The judges measure the bird’s rate of travel to determine the winner. In modern races the pigeons are tracked using a RFID tag to record arrival time. In traditional races, the pigeons were labeled with a rubber ring with an identification number and a special racing clock was utilized. The bird’s rubber ring was placed in the clock to signify when it arrived at the end of the race. “From this timestamp an average speed is measured and a winner of the race can be found.” (Pigeon Racing Information Plaque in the Museum)

Real Pigeons!

How do you tell what kind of pigeon it is that you’re looking at? The Homing & Fancy Pigeon exhibit illustrates the differences between the two breeds of pigeons. To view the “Breeds of Pigeons” Gallery – CLICK HERE!

So, I know I talked about my favorite exhibit earlier in this post, but I have to highlight another awesome feature of this museum. There are REAL, LIVING pigeons in the museum. The pigeons pictured below are kept outside behind the museum and you have to go out the back doors to have access. There were also pigeons inside the museum in a bird cage by the front desk. I liked being able to see the different types of pigeons and their multi-colored feather patterns.

GRAPHIC PHOTO WARNING FOR GALLERY BELOW: Pictured in this gallery are images of pigeon dissections, a pigeon skeleton, feather diagram, and a real preserved pigeon. If you don’t want to see a preserved pigeon then don’t scroll through the gallery below – it is the last picture (#6) in the gallery. The pigeon skeleton photos are (#4) and (#5).

Passenger Pigeons – A Tragic Ending

The Passenger Pigeon is a tragic example of what can happen when species are not taken care of properly. The Passenger Pigeons suffered from habitat loss and hunting. “The last confirmed sighting of wild passenger pigeons occurred at Laurel, Indiana on April 3, 1902, Thirty years earlier, it had been the most abundant bird on the continent. But hunting wiped out the wild flocks by the 1890s, and the few wild survivors couldn’t reestablish the communal lifestyle they needed to survive.” (Going, Going, Gone Information Plaque in the Museum) Some scientists estimate that 3-5 billion passenger pigeons may have been alive when Europeans initially came to America.

Martha – the last Passenger Pigeon in captivity – died at the Cincinnati Zoo on September 1, 1914 at 1 pm at the age of 29. The Cincinnati Zoo donated her body to the Smithsonian Institution. The Smithsonian mounted the bird and placed her on display.

Research Library

The American Pigeon Museum has a dedicated space for a research library. There are lots of different books and records you can look at. You can walk right into the space without making an appointment.

The American Pigeon Museum and Library also has a cool section on their website with articles about pigeons and their history. I have linked it HERE!

Concluding Thoughts

The American Pigeon Museum was a cool museum to visit! I didn’t really know a lot about the history of pigeons before visiting the museum and I definitely learned a lot on this trip. I hope you’ll go check this museum out and see the pigeons!

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

TRAVEL TIP: This museum is super close to a lot of other museums in OKC! Make sure to check out the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, Science Museum, OKC Zoo, Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum, and more in the area!

Visit

2300 N.E. 63rd St.

Oklahoma City, OK 73111

TRAVEL TIP: Museum admission is free!

Sources

The American Pigeon Museum – Website

Breeds of Pigeons Gallery

Information Signs in the Museum Galleries – specific signs labeled within the post when used

First Americans Museum: Oklahoma City, OK

Hey friend – welcome back to another post! Today, we’re talking about the new First Americans Museum in Oklahoma City! The facility is beautiful and there is so much history inside. Let’s go look around!

*All photos used in this post were taken at the First Americans Museum in Oklahoma City.

Museum History

The First Americans Museum is a partnership between the State of Oklahoma and The City of Oklahoma City. A Chickasaw Nation subsidiary, the American Indian Cultural Center Foundation, and many donors have also helped make this museum a reality. The architects of the museum were Johnson Fain Architects: Master Planning and Building Concepts, Los Angeles and Hornbeek, Blatt Architects, Co-Prime, Edmond.

The First Americans Museum opened in 2021 and is 175,000 square feet! The building aligns with the cardinal directions which is significant during the winter and summer solstices and the spring and autumnal equinox. (FAM Website, FAQ Page)

The First Americans Museum Mission statement is “To serve as a dynamic center promoting awareness and educating the broader public about the unique cultures, diversity, history, contributions, and resilience of the First American Nations in Oklahoma today.” (FAM Website, About Page) The Museum believes in four core values: respect, reciprocity, relationships, and responsibility.

Indigenous History in Oklahoma

Many of the 39 nations which call Oklahoma home today were forcibly removed to the area throughout the Nineteenth Century. Though a few tribes were originally from the area.

Oklahoma became the 46th state to enter the Union in 1907. The word ‘Oklahoma’ combines two Choctaw words ‘Okla’ and ‘Homma’ which means ‘Red People.’ There are 12 linguistic families spoken in Oklahoma: Algonquian, Athapascan, Caddoan, Iroquoian, Tanoan, Muskogean, Penutian, Jiwere (Siouan), Dhegiha (Siouan), Tonkawan, Uchean, Uto-Aztecan. (FAM Website, FAQ Page)

The following 39 nations live in Oklahoma today: Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma, Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town, Apache Tribe of Oklahoma, Caddo Nation, Cherokee Nation, Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes, Chickasaw Nation, Choctaw Nation, Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Comanche Nation, Delaware Nation, Delaware Tribe of Indians, Eastern Shawnee Tribe, Euchee (Yuchi) Tribe of Indians, Fort Sill Apache Tribe, Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma, Kaw Nation of Oklahoma, Kialegee Tribal Town, Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma, Kiowa Tribe, Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, Modoc Tribe, Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Osage Nation, Otoe-Missouria Tribe, Ottawa Tribe, Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma, Ponca Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma, Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma, Sac & Fox Nation, Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, Seneca-Cayuga Tribe, Shawnee Tribe, Thlopthlocco Tribal Town, Tonkawa Tribe, United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma, Wichita and Affiliated Tribes, Wyandotte Nation. (FAM Website, FAQ Page)

For a map of the 39 nations, please click on this link HERE.

TRAVEL TIP: Tribal Gallery Guides are linked HERE. The First Americans Museum website has PDF documents with consultation lists and specific interpretive items and cultural materials from each tribe.


Terms Defined

The First Americans Museum had the following terms defined on a display. I thought this was very helpful, especially if you are not familiar with Indigenous histories.

Museum Exhibits

There are three main exhibit halls in the First Americans Museum. Two are located on the first floor and the third is located on the second floor. OKLA HOMMA and Of the Earth: Creating First Americans Museum are located on the first floor. WINIKO: Life of an Object is located on the second floor.

OKLA HOMMA

The OKLA HOMMA exhibit is in the Tribal Nations Gallery on the first floor and covers 18,000 square feet. This gallery tells the stories of the 39 culturally distinct nations living in Oklahoma today. This space utilizes art, film, interactive media, and a large map on the floor. The gallery discusses origin stories, collective histories, (mis)representation, sports, warriors, and so much more. The museum worked with 39 tribes for over a decade to ensure that everything is accurate.

Pictured below are a few pieces and displays within the exhibit. There is so much more to read and look at in this space. I was very disappointed my memory card filled up half-way through this space… Please go visit this museum to see the rest of the displays!

WINIKO: Life of an Object

Winiko: Life of an Object is from the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. According to the brochure, the objects offer “an opportunity to understand the importance of the creation collection and continued relevance of cultural materials today.” (FAM Brochure) This collection contains clothing, drums, and more. I did not take pictures in this space, but encourage you to go check it out!

Of the Earth: Creating First Americans Museum

This exhibit illustrates how the First Americans Museum came to be. There are blueprints and mini-models in the collection. The architectural significance is also explained which I thought was very interesting!

First Americans Museum Timeline

  • 1994: Legislation Created Museum Agency
  • 1994-2006: Site Remediation
  • 2005: Ground Blessing
  • 2008: Mound and Remembrance Walls Constructed
  • 2010: Hall of People Constructed
  • 2013-2016
  • 2017: New Horizons
  • 2021: Site Completion

Concluding Thoughts

I loved this museum – walking through the halls was an honor. I learned so much and plan to go back in the future. You should plan to spend at least a few hours in this museum. We read many of the signs, but didn’t have time to sit and listen to the videos and oral histories on this trip. On my next visit, I plan to sit and listen to everything. The small theater spaces were amazing and there is also a large theater included in museum admission – so be sure to keep that in mind when visiting. Please go check this museum out and take time to learn the history of the First Americans.

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

Visit

659 First Americans Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK 73129

TRAVEL TIP: The Thirty Nine Restaurant and Arbor Cafe are located in the museum. Check the First Americans Museum website for restaurant hours and menus. Many of the dishes include “Native ingredients” and several “tribally-specific dishes” are served.

Sources

First Americans Museum – Website

First Americans Museum Website – About Us Page

First Americans Museum Website – FAQ Page

Tribal Gallery Guides – FAM Website

Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum: Oklahoma City, OK

Hey friend! Welcome back to another post! Today, we’re talking about the Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum and Memorial. There are pieces in the museum collection from across the United States, across Oklahoma, and even a piece from the London Fire Brigade. Let’s go look around!

*All photos used in this post were taken inside and outside at the Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum in Oklahoma City.

Museum History

The Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum was founded in 1967 in OKC with a groundbreaking ceremony taking place on April 6th. The building was completed in 1969 and opened to the public on June 1st. The Oklahoma State Firefighters Association (OSFA), Oklahoma Fire Chiefs Association (OCFA), and the Oklahoma Retired Firefighters Association (ORFA) also have offices in the building. 

The museum is owned and operated by firefighters of the Oklahoma State Firefighters Association which was founded in 1894. A portion of membership dues help support the museum.

Exhibits

There were several really cool exhibits and artifacts in this museum. I have included a few photos of some of the exhibits. Please make sure to visit the museum or their website for more information.

Alfred P. Murrah Bombing – Rescue Memorial

On April 19, 1995 at 9:02 a.m. a bomb exploded in front of the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma City. Many firefighters rushed to the scene to help the injured amongst the chaos. There were two memorials made to honor the firefighters, one is located at the Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum and the other is in Washington, D.C. at the International Association of Firefighters office.

I hope to visit the OKC Memorial Museum in Oklahoma City in the future.

Old Fire Station

There is a miniature firehouse built inside the museum which has an early 20th century John Gamewell Alarm System from Enid, Oklahoma. Scroll through the photos below to get a closer look!

Miniature Fire Truck Collection & The Last Alarm Mural

The collection of miniature firetrucks lined one of the walls in the museum and they were super cool to look at!

If you look above the cases in photo 5 you will notice a large mural – this is called The Last Alarm. Lynn Campbell painted the mural while visitors at the museum watched. The mural is 59 feet long and 8 feet tall with each firetruck representing a real truck used by a town.

Fire Pole & Horse Drawn Wagon

Firefighter Gear

There was a wall with firefighting bunker coats from World War II to the present-day. It was really neat to see how the gear changed over time. Scroll through the gallery to read more about each specific set of gear provided by the Morning Pride Manufacturing Co.

Ben Franklin Collection & Early Firefighting Equipment

First Fire Station in Indian Territory

Fort Supply Depot was the location of the first fire station in Indian Territory (later Oklahoma). The log cabin structure was built in 1869 on the plains. The soldiers wanted a structure to protect all of the fire equipment from the elements. It also gave a sense of law and order to the area. 

A little over a century later, the Fort Supply Fire Department donated the log cabin to the Oklahoma State Firefighters Association. The museum staff had to move it from Fort Supply to OKC which is roughly a 3 hour trip covering 160-185 miles depending on your route. 16 people from OKC took a truck and trailer to pick up the log cabin from Fort Supply. The log cabin survived the trip thanks to the diligence of the museum staff. Once the log cabin arrived in OKC the museum staff realized that it wouldn’t fit through the door… So it was carefully broken into pieces and then put back together once all the pieces inside the Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum! 

Largest Firefighter Patch Collection in the World!

The Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum has the largest collection of firefighter patches in the world. The patches in the Ben Dancy/Arvin Fennell Memorial Patch Collection come from all over the world – if you zoom in on the photos you can read where the patches are from! The collection wraps around three walls of the museum and the photos don’t do it justice… There are over 7,000 patches in this collection!

In the 1960s, Ben Dancy was the Chief of the Oklahoma City Fire Department. He began putting patches on the wall in June 1969 when the museum opened and continued to do so until he passed away in 1982. Arvin Fennell carried on the patch legacy in Chief Dancy’s honor. Fennell was a retired Assistant Fire Chief from Midwest City. He is responsible for the display cases currently in the museum. Previously, the patch collection had been mounted in a catalogue, but Fennell made cases where you could see all the patches at once. Chief Fennell continued working on the patch collection until he passed in 2015.

Fire Trucks

The museum has over a dozen restored firetrucks inside that you can walk around and look at. There are pieces of equipment from the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries in the collection. Scroll through the gallery to view various fire trucks from different eras. We were told that many of the fire trucks still run, which is pretty cool if you ask me!

My Favorite Piece in the Collection

My favorite piece in this museum was probably this hand drawn chemical cart from 1890. A lot of the research I do takes place in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, so it was cool to see what kind of firefighting equipment they had at the time!

Firefighter’s Memorial

The Memorial is on the Western side of the property. It honors the brave men and women firefighters who have protected and served Oklahoma. The sculpture is titled, Just Another Day and was created by Shahla Rahimi Reynolds (OKC).

The Wall of Valor honors the firefighters who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Other firefighters who have served for over 20 years or retired through disability are also recognized in the memorial.

You can search names on the Memorial Wall on this web page if you scroll down the page – LINK HERE.

Concluding Thoughts

I enjoyed visiting the Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum again. I visited once when I was a kid and all I remembered about the museum were the big firetrucks on the inside of the building. So, it was cool to go back and walk around the inside of the museum again and appreciate more of the collection. I learned a lot and hope you’ll go check this place out!

TRAVEL TIP: This museum is located right by the Oklahoma City Zoo, Science Museum Oklahoma, the National Softball Hall of Fame, American Pigeon Museum, and the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. So, if you’re traveling from out of town, make sure to visit some of these other cool places that are close by!

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

Visit

2716 NE 50th St.
Oklahoma City, OK 73111

TRAVEL TIP: There were covered picnic tables outside the museum – it’d be the perfect place for a picnic lunch!

Sources

Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum & Memorial – Website

Memorial Wall Name Search – Web Page

Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum – visitokc.com

Christmas Gift Ideas from Museum Gift Shops

Hey friend! Welcome back to another post! Today, I am going to give you a few gift ideas you can find in museum gift shops! These gift ideas would be perfect for Christmas presents, birthday presents, or “I was thinking about you when I saw this” presents. Let’s get started!

So, I love visiting museums and stopping by the gift shop. They always have to coolest gifts you can give people in my opinion. The gift stores also help support the museum – why wouldn’t you want to do that?! Some museums have online gift stores, so, if you live out of state or know that someone in your life loves a particular museum you could always order something online!

Bonus Tip: I know a lot of people like to wait to find deals around the holidays when shopping for Christmas gifts, so here’s a tip, some museum gift shops will participate in Small Business Saturday or Cyber Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. This means that they will have discounted items in the their store and online for a certain period of time – so make sure to check that out.

For the purpose of this article, I have broken the gift ideas into a few categories: gifts under $10, gifts under $25, gifts $25 and over, and museum memberships. I hope this helps with your shopping list!

Best Gifts Under $10

  • Magnets
  • Stickers
  • Keychains
  • Pens/Stationary
  • Coffee Mugs
  • Souvenir Glasses
  • Post Cards & Greeting Cards
  • Toys
  • Jewelry

Best Gifts Under $25

  • Books
  • Hats
  • T-Shirts or Sweatshirts
  • Toys
  • Figurines
  • Bags/Purses
  • Scarves/Accessories
  • Jewelry
  • Lotions, bath salts, etc.
  • Socks with fun prints
  • Ties/Bowties

Gift Ideas $25 +

  • Art
  • Figurines/Sculptures
  • Books
  • Sweatshirts or Clothing

Museum Memberships

Museum memberships are another great gift that you can give the museum lover in your life. A museum membership will allow someone to visit a museum as many time as they want within a given calendar year. Memberships have a range of options to choose from like only adults to adults and children. So, hop on over to the museum’s website to explore options or simply give them a call!

Concluding Thoughts

Hey friend, I hope these gift ideas help inspire you. Remember, a gift doesn’t have to be expensive to show someone that you care. Please try to support your local museums this holiday season!

I hope this helps with your shopping list! I’ll be looking at my local museums for the next several weeks so wish me luck and stay tuned to see if I finish my shopping list before Christmas!

I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂

Where to Find Museum Discounts in Oklahoma!

Hey friend! Welcome back to another post. Today, I am going to tell you where to find discounts and passes to Oklahoma museums. I love, love, love going to museums! But I also understand that museum visits can get expensive… Keep reading for tips on how to find museum discounts in Oklahoma!

***These discount sites might be similar in other states within the United States so check them out for your area if you’re not in Oklahoma.

How to Get Into Museums for Free in Oklahoma

Many museums in Oklahoma actually allow visitors to walk through for free and ask for a small donation at the end of your visit. Here is a list of museums which have free admission in OKC!

Some museums even offer free admission days for children – so make sure to look up the museum admission page before you go visit!

Here are a couple of other different ways that you can get into museums for “free” in Oklahoma.

1. Experience Pass

The Oklahoma Metropolitan Library System has an Experience Pass which can be checked out from the library – you can go to the OKC Museum of Art, Oklahoma History Center, and the Museum of Osteology for free! You will need a library card to check out the passes, but library cards are free. You just need to go fill out an application at your local library.

Here are the links to each Experience Pass from the Oklahoma Metropolitan Library System: OKC Museum of Art, Oklahoma History Center, and Skeletons: Museum of Osteology.

2. Blue Star Museums (Armed Forces Day through Labor Day)

Blue Star Museums offer free admission to active duty military personnel and their families from Armed Forces Day to Labor Day. This is a partnership between the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and museums.

Here is a link to a map which shows the museums who participate in the Blue Star Museum Program across the United States. Just click on your state! Blue Star Museum Map!

Military Discounts

Many museums in Oklahoma offer discounted admission rates to military members and Veterans as long as you show your military I.D.

Museum Discount Websites in Oklahoma

Most states in the United States have travel websites that tell what you need to see when visiting a city. Most of these sites have coupons hidden in their pages. I stumbled across some museum coupons one day and am going to link those below!

VisitOKC.com is a website that has museum coupons! Most of the coupons expire at the end of the calendar year. Here are the coupons they currently have as of 2021: Science Museum Oklahoma, American Banjo Museum, Skeletons: Museum of Osteology, and the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.

TravelOK and Discover Oklahoma are two websites which have a lot of travel tips for Oklahoma. I haven’t found any coupons on their websites, but they do list some of the military discounts. So you might want to check out their websites!

Museum Memberships

Museum memberships are another great way to save money on museum visits. Andddddd many museums will put their memberships at a discounted rate at certain times during the year. So you save even more $$$!

Museum memberships really pay for themselves within 2-3 visits! I frequent a few museums and love taking my friends with me – so the membership pass is totally worth it. My friends are able to get into the museum with me by using my membership pass. Its a win-win for everyone 🙂

College I.D. and Teacher Discounts

Many museums also offer discounts to college students and teachers. As a college student, I loved being able to save a few dollars by using my College I.D. card. When you walk in to pay admission just simply ask if they offer a student discount – some will and some won’t.

Museums also offer teacher discounts – so make sure to ask about that if you are an educator! Also, make sure to ask if they have any teacher resources for your classroom.

Smithsonian Museum Day

Once a year, the Smithsonian affiliated museums in Oklahoma (and across the United States) will have free admission. You log onto the website linked here and download your free ticket. You can only download one ticket for one museum!

Concluding Thoughts

I love visiting museums and hope you will too! These are just a few of the ways that you can save money when visiting museums in Oklahoma. If there are any pages or discounts that I missed, please feel free to email me or drop me a message on the contact page linked here! I hope to keep this page up to date with the latest museum discounts.

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

American Banjo Museum: Oklahoma City, OK

Hey there! Welcome back to another museum post! Today, I’m going to tell you about the American Banjo Museum located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. This museum is in the heart of Bricktown so there’s a lot of other fun places to visit besides the museum!

*All photos were taken at the American Banjo Museum in OKC, Oklahoma.

Museum History

The museum was originally located in Guthrie, Oklahoma and was called “The National Four-String Banjo Hall of Fame and Museum.” This nonprofit was founded in 1998 by Jack Canine and Brady Hunt. It predominantly featured banjos from the 1920s and 1930s.

Today, the American Banjo Museum is located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. It features banjos from the late-nineteenth century to the present. There are over 400 instruments in the collection! The details on the banjos were so intricate and beautiful featuring many colors and designs.

Museum Mission Statement: “The mission of the American Banjo Museum is to preserve and promote the banjo while expanding appreciation and understanding of its history and music.”

Banjo History

The banjo is sometimes referred to as “America’s instrument.” The banjo has evolved as an instrument over the past 400 years in the United States. It has roots in American slavery and is still used in Bluegrass and International folk music today in the twenty-first century.

Permanent Exhibits

The following exhibits are part of the permanent collection: America’s Instrument, The Minstrel Era – From the Plantation to the Stage, The Classical Era – The Banjo Goes Legit…, The 1920s – The Banjos That Made the Twenties Roar!, Bluegrass and Beyond, The Folk Explosion… A Mighty Wind!, Jazz Age Banjo Treasures, and Your Father’s Mustache Special Event Room (Shown in the Video Below – How cool is this?!)

My Favorite Exhibit

Admittedly, I didn’t really know anything about banjos before going to this museum – especially their history. I had only heard my dad and cousin play a banjo… So I learned a lot on this trip!

I didn’t have a favorite piece in this collection because I didn’t know enough about the instrument to have a favorite banjo, but my favorite exhibit featured women who are famous for playing the banjo.

Ukulele History

The American Banjo Museum also features an exhibit detailing the history of ukulele. I didn’t know much about the history of the ukulele before visiting this museum either!

Bonus Tip: The American Banjo Museum has an archive of audio and video recordings, photos, publications, and personal memorabilia from several famous banjo players. This archive is accessible to members by appointment only. Please contact the museum about memberships or viewing collections in the archive.

Concluding Thoughts

The American Banjo Museum was definitely a unique museum to visit. This museum most likely has a very niche audience – as someone who loves museums this was a cool place to visit. The museum was laid out very well and the welcome video at the front gave you a crash course on banjo history which was extremely helpful. The video was very informative, but it wasn’t overwhelming.

I hope you’ll go visit this museum soon! If you’re not in Oklahoma, try to find a small music history museum and go visit it! You never know what you might learn or who you might meet!

Happy traveling! Ill talk to ya soon! 🙂

Visit

9 East Sheridan Ave
Oklahoma City, OK 73014

Sources

American Banjo Museum Website

Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame & Jim Thorpe Museum: Oklahoma City, OK

Hey friend! Are you ready for another museum adventure?! Today I am reviewing the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame and Jim Thorpe Museum located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. It is attached to the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark!

This museum is another hidden gem in Oklahoma City! My dad and I were driving through Bricktown and I happened to look out the window and spotted it. We didn’t have time to stop that day, but I went home and looked it up! And as you can see, I went back to the City and walked through the museum and it was definitely worth the road trip!

Bonus Tip: This museum has free admission and loves to have visitors stop by!

Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame History

The Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame was established in 1986 under the name the “Jim Thorpe Association.” In 2013, the Jim Thorpe Association and the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame merged into the same organization.

Every year, different people are inducted into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame. Oklahomans from around the state are featured in this museum. You have people from Bobby Murcer to John Smith to Mike Gundy in the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame.

*All photos were taken at the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame and Time Thorpe Museum in OKC, Oklahoma.

The museum’s mission statement is: “To encourage excellence through sports, academics, health and fitness; preserving our sports heritage while building pride in Oklahoma in the spirit of Jim Thorpe.”

Jim Thorpe Museum History

The Jim Thorpe Museum is also housed in the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame. The Jim Thorpe section of the museum is at the front of the museum and it was so cool! This section of the museum celebrates the life and accomplishments of Jim Thorpe through memorabilia and educational signs.

The Jim Thorpe Museum also hands out the Paycom Jim Thorpe Award to the top defensive back in college football.

The Oklahoma Tennis Hall of Fame is also located within the museum.

Facility

The Museum is attached to the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City. There is a huge statue of Jim Thorpe out front at the bottom right of the stairs.

Travel Tip: The museum is located at the top of the stairs in the photo below. Make sure to stop outside and take a photo with the Jim Thorpe statue.

There is also a patio that you can walk out on that overlooks the ballpark. It was super cool to walk out there and see the ballpark from the point of view! The photo directly below was taken on the patio overlooking the ballpark!

Cool Pieces from the Collection

It was really cool to see some of the Bobby Murcer items. He and my Nana went to the same high school in Oklahoma City!

This was a saddle won by Freckles Brown. The detail on this saddle was amazing – the photo doesn’t do it justice… My Papa has told me several stories about Freckles Brown riding Tornado! Tornado had thrown more than 250 people off on the rodeo circuit – so it was very impressive when Freckles Brown stayed on for the required 8 second ride in 1967!

Fun Fact! Tornado is buried on the grounds of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. Check out my blog post about The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum HERE 🙂

Oklahoma State University (OSU) – Go Pokes!

You know I had to include some pictures from notable Oklahoma State University athletes and coaches! Loyal and true, right?! Pictured below you have items from Eddie Sutton, Bryant Reeves, Mike Gundy, and John Smith. This was not all of the OSU athletes and coaches in the collection so you’ll have to go visit to find the rest! 🙂

Olympic gold medal wrestler John Smith. He is the current head wrestling coach at Oklahoma State University.

University of Oklahoma (OU)

There were also several athletes and coaches featured from the University of Oklahoma. Pictured below are items from Barry Switzer and Bob Stoops.

Favorite Piece from the Collection

I didn’t have a favorite piece from this museum. There was a lot of history to take in and I can’t choose a favorite… There is definitely something here for everyone though! 🙂

Concluding Thoughts

This museum was really interesting to me. I have been an avid sports fan for as long as I can remember! I remember my Papa telling me stories about Freckles Brown riding Tornado and my Nana talking about going to school with Bobby Murcer. So, it was cool to see pieces owned by these iconic Oklahoma athletes who left a lasting impact on this state.

This museum has free admission and loves to have visitors stop by! So, I hope you’ll make a trip to visit this museum one day!

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


Visit

20 S Mickey Mantle Dr.

Oklahoma City, OK 73104

Sources

Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame and Jim Thorpe Museum Website

99’s Museum of Women Pilots: Oklahoma City, OK

The 99’s Museum of Women Pilots is dedicated to preserving the history of women in early aviation to present day. This museum is a hidden gem located on the grounds of the Will Rogers Airport in Oklahoma City.

*All photos were taken at the 99’s Museum in OKC, Oklahoma.

Museum History

The 99’s Museum of Women Pilots was opened in 1999 – but that’s not why it’s called the 99’s Museum. The 99’s were a group of 99 female pilots who first met in 1929. Their first headquarters was in New York, but it was moved to Oklahoma City in 1955. They began fundraising for the 99’s museum in 1972 and by 1975 some land became available.

There is over 5,000 square feet of history and artifacts to walk through in the museum today. There is also a huge archive with some really cool resources like oral histories!

My Favorite Exhibit: A Timeline of Historic Flights by Amelia Earhart

So, I started researching the story of Amelia Earhart because one of my buddies wanted to know more about her story. I found out the 99’s Museum of Women pilots has one of the largest collections of Earhart’s personal belongings – and that it happened to be located in Oklahoma City of all places! So my dad and I made a road trip to check out this museum!

The collection is well-researched and put together. They have Amelia Earhart’s personal treasures, a piece of one of her airplanes, and even a lock of her hair!

My 2nd Favorite Exhibits: Women Aviators of WWII & WASP

Many women served during World War II. Jackie Cochran founded the Women’s Auxiliary Ferry Squadron (WAFS) in 1942. Then Nancy Harkness Love founded the Women’s Flying Training Detachment (WFTD) in 1942. In July 1943, the two groups merged to form the Women’s Air Force Service Pilots. Jackie Cochran was the leader of the women.

Training for WASP lasted four months. There were 1,078 women in the WASP, but they weren’t made official members of the US military until 1977. The WWII WASP were awarded the WWII Victory Medal in 1984 and were given the Congressional Gold Medal in 2009.

The Women’s Auxiliary Service Pilots (WASP) were one group who served. These female pilots were employed by the United States Federal Civil Service and volunteered to join the war effort to fill the shortage of male pilots. These women worked in civilian jobs which allowed men to go fight in combat missions in Europe. The women’s job was the test and ferry aircraft and train more pilots.

Several female pilots served in other military forces besides the United States. For example, the British had the ATA and the ‘Night Witches’ served in the Soviet Union.

More Exhibits

There are several other cool permanent exhibits in the 99’s Museum that cover early aviation through present day. All of the exhibits in this article can be viewed online! But there are other exhibits in the museum that make the trip to the actual museum in OKC totally worth it 🙂

The following exhibits can be viewed online: the 1929 Powder Puff Derby, Jerrie Cobb and Space Exploration, and the Marion P. Jayne Collection.

Concluding Thoughts

This museum is a hidden treasure in Oklahoma City. I am so happy that I happened to stumble across it on a museum list. It was well worth the drive to visit and learn about the history of women in aviation! I hope you’ll go visit – in-person or virtually through their website!

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


Visit

4300 Amelia Earhart Drive, Ste A 
Oklahoma City, OK 73159-1106

Sources

99’s Museum Website

The Round Barn: Arcadia, OK

A round barn? Yes! They really exist! This style became popular in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries because people thought that tornadoes would bounce off the walls and go around the structure, rather than going through it.

*All photos were taken at the Round Barn in Arcadia, Oklahoma.

Arcadia History

The town of Arcadia was organized in 1902 by William Odor, Isaac Dawson, and B.F. Newkirk. The Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Railroad had laid tracks south of the barn on Odor’s land. 

By 1914, Oklahoma County built a crude dirt road between the barn and the railroad tracks. This road became known as State Highway 7. By 1926, the road was still unpaved, but it became a part of a brand new larger national highway system. Do you know what highway it was? It became know as U.S. Highway 66, better known as Route 66. The Mother Road brought in a whole new group of people and the Round Barn quickly became a landmark to see!  Finally, in 1929, the highway was paved! The road was 18 feet wide with a 5-inch concrete base and 2-inch asphalt overlay. 

Round Barn History

The Round Barn in Arcadia, Oklahoma was built by William Harrison Odor. He began the project in 1898 and it took awhile to complete. The foundation was built out of local red Permian rock. The walls and rafters were constructed out of native burr oak boards which were cut while they were green. The boards were soaked in the river to make them pliable so they could be shaped into the iconic curves. The building process took several months.

The workers convinced Odor to let them pay the difference in materials to convert the top of the barn into a loft for dances and social gatherings. The acoustics were amazing. Odor had one condition – only “good music” could be played in his barn.

Odor had to climb to the apex of the barn’s roof to tie the rafters together, himself – because nobody else was brave enough to do it. That point was 43 feet off the ground! It’s a good thing that he wasn’t afraid of heights!

The Barn Switches Hands

By April 1946, Frank and Katie Vrana owned the Round Barn. They used it as a workplace and place to store hay for the next 30 years. They cut a large door into the side of the structure and it severely weakened the building. So much so that the barn began to lean due to the high winds… Oklaaaaaaaahommmmmaaa where the winds come sweeping down the plains! 

Saving the Barn

The Round Barn in Arcadia was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. By this time the barn was in pretty poor shape. The entire thing had decayed and was falling apart. It had also been the target of arsonists and vandals. 

The Round Barn’s condition continued worsening over the next decade. Then in the late 1980s a group of people sought to restore the Round Barn. Beverly White, along with Luke and Ana Robison formed the Arcadia Historical and Preservation Society. 

The descendants of Frank Vrana donated the barn to the Arcadia Historical Society on May 27, 1988. Luke Robison was a retired builder and carpenter and set to work restoring the Round Barn to its former glory. On June 29, 1988 according to an eyewitness – the Round Barn’s roof “just kind of sighed and fell in, like a souffle” due to the years of rot and decay. This didn’t stop the restoration team though! 

Official restoration work began in 1989 performed by an army of volunteers who liked to call themselves the “Over-the-Hill Gang.” Many of the volunteers were retirees! Like William Odor before him, Luke Robison was the man to tie the rafters together at the top of the new roof. 

The Round Barn was completely restored and dedicated on April 4, 1992. 

Then in November 1993, the National Trust for Historic Preservation gave the volunteers an award recognizing their craftsmanship and work in preservation. 

By 2005, the Round Barn was in need of more repairs. A new army of volunteers gathered their tools and got to work. They received funding from the National Park Service’s Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program. 

The Round Barn Today

Today, the barn is in great condition as you can see here. It still remains an iconic stop on Route 66 and many tourists visit every year. The Bottom of the Round Barn houses a museum and gift shop for tourists. There are several pictures, old maps, farming equipment, and so much more! They even have a tiny replica of the barn – it’s so cute!

Personally, my favorite part of the museum is all of the old photographs of Odor, his family, and Arcadia. The maps are also super cool!

You can go inside the top of the barn too! Today, the barn hosts music gatherings, proms, and weddings in the loft. The floor is beautiful and it is so fun to peak out the windows and watch the cars drive by on Route 66! Make sure to stand on the platform in the middle of the room too!

Old Farming Equipment

Once you’re done looking around inside, make sure to head back outside and go check out all of the old farming equipment behind the barn. There are all kinds of pieces of equipment!

Concluding Thoughts

The Round Barn is open to visitors almost year round. They host public and private events. I hope you’ll go check out this awesome place! Their address and phone number are below. I will also link their website at the end of this article!

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


Visit

107 E Highway 66

Arcadia, OK 73007

Sources

Arcadia Round Barn Website