POSTED ON JULY 25, 2007:
Gift of Art
Boon to Brady Arts District, huge Southwestern Native American art collection to travel between Philbrook and OU
Philbrook, along with the OU's Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art in Norman, will jointly receive the Eugene B. Adkins collection of art, which includes Maynard Dixon's "End House at Walpi."
Tulsa's Philbrook Museum of Art will soon take part in what is considered to be one of the world's most important collections of southwestern and Native American art.
Philbrook, along with the University of Oklahoma's Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art in Norman, will jointly receive the Eugene B. Adkins collection of art, which includes pieces by Taos and other Native American artists, as well as numerous southwestern American painters.
Ted Riseling, chairman of the Adkins Foundation board, announced at a press conference at the Philbrook last week that, after reviewing proposals from leading art museums across the nation, the Philbrook and OU were selected to receive the collection.
Valued at about $50 million, Adkins' collection includes more than 3,300 pieces, including 1,100 two-dimensional works, 370 works of pottery, more than 1,600 works of jewelry and about 250 other examples of indigenous American arts.
OU President David Boren said the collection "further solidifies" his campus' museum as "one of the leading university art museums in the entire nation."
"It also means the university's museum (and the Philbrook) will have a collection of work done by the master artists of the Taos art colony, which is unexcelled by any art museum in the country," he added.
The George Kaiser Family Foundation will provide at least 10,000 square feet of space in the Mathews Warehouse in the Brady District for the Philbrook Museum to create the Adkins Center to house the collection.
The Mathews Warehouse is also the planned location for the Concept 100 Arts Loft, which is to be a fully functioning artists' colony when the work beginning this summer is completed.
The first floor is to be made up of galleries exhibiting the work of local, regional, national and international artists, while the second floor is to house studio workspaces and residential spaces for visiting artists.
The Adkins Center-portion of Mathews Warehouse will include public gallery space, research facilities and will incorporate the "Lawson Library," focusing on Native American culture and history.
"The most important aspect of the Adkins Center is the generative potential of its resources," said Philbrook Executive Director Randall Suffolk.
"Indeed, it is the synergy and opportunities created among the Eugene B. Adkins collection, Philbrook's Native American Collection, and our Lawson Library that will distinguish the center as a unique resource of international importance," he added.
The "cultural life" of Tulsa will be "directly enhanced" by the center and the collection within, Suffolk also said, and "our children will be inspired to expand their understanding of artistic creation," "gain new appreciation for other cultures," and to "acquire new perspectives on our nation's history."
Suffolk also lauded the creation of the Adkins Center as "a mission-driven opportunity to lend momentum to our city's revitalization efforts."
He said it will take at least two years before the center is up and running, though.
Meanwhile, over in Norman, OU will add a new gallery to an additional floor above the original art gallery building to house the collection. A curator will also be added, as well as additional graduate fellowships and an Adkins Presidential Professorship in the history of Western American art.
Boren said Philbrook and OU will share the entirety of the collection, alternating different exhibitions.
"The people of Oklahoma will continuously have the opportunity to view the major master works from the collection," he said.
Also, he said the two institutions will increase their shared internships and research efforts on the collection, with a mind for additional joint initiatives in the future.
"By partnering in one joint Oklahoma application to the trustees (of the Adkins Foundation Board), OU and Philbrook helped assure that this magnificent collection with historic ties to Oklahoma will remain in our home state," said Boren.
Those "historic ties" to which Boren referred are through Adkins himself.
"Few Oklahoma families have deeper roots in Oklahoma than the family of Eugene Brady Adkins," said Judy Ward, the Philbrook's communications manager.
His father, Eugene Sloan Adkins, was born in Choteau and established the Adkins Hay and Feed Company in Muskogee in 1917, which he owned and operated.
Bess Brady Adkins, the mother of the late art connoisseur, was the daughter of pioneer W. Tate Brady--one of Tulsa's first citizens, developers and civic leaders, who opened a mercantile store on Main St. in 1890 and the built the renowned Brady Hotel a decade later.
Ward said the treasures accumulated by Adkins in his life will complement some of Philbrook's original objects, which came from the private collection of another founding patriarch of Tulsa--Waite Phillips, who also devoted himself to the preservation of Native American culture using the oil fortune he amassed out of Indian lands.
"Philbrook Museum of Art's commitment to Native American art and culture dates to the very founding of the museum. Following that tradition, major private collections have enriched and expanded the holdings of the museum over the years," said Ward.
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