Tulsa is home to some great small galleries with unique, specialized collections that are definitely worth a visit. The Gilcrease Museum has been called the “Museum of the Americas” for its vast collection of Western and Native American art and artifacts. It’s the best introduction to the region’s cultural history. The Philbrook Museum of Art has a diverse collection of art from around the world housed in the former estate of oilman Waite Philips. The Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art is the largest collection of Jewish art and artifacts in the US Southwest.
Tulsa’s rich and varied history is preserved in many urban monuments. The Creek Council Oak Tree at the corner of 18th St and Cheyenne Ave is spot where the city was founded in 1836 by Lochapoka and Creek Indians who’d been driven from their homeland in Alabama. The Oak was Tulsa’s first town hall, where the earliest settlers would meet to plan for their future.
The Native American spirit is also celebrated with an enlarged version of Cyrus Dallin’s sculpture Appeal To The Great Spirit at Woodward Park.
The Greenwood Cultural Centre is dedicated to the preservation and redemption of a sad note in Tulsa’s history. In 1921, the Greenwood neighborhood saw the worst race riot in America’s history, leaving an estimated 300 dead and thousands homeless. Today, the Centre documents the history of Tulsa’s Black community and serves as a social and cultural hub for residents.
The 23-meter/76-foot-tall campy, deco-ish Golden Driller statue at the front entrance to the Tulsa County Fairgrounds commemorates the oil industry that made Tulsa famous and wealthy through the 20th century.
In a magnificent art-deco former train station is the spectacular Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, which hosts regular live jazz performances.
The “Center of the Universe” is one of those weird roadside attractions that the US Southwest does so well. You’ll find it on the apex of a disused rail bridge (The Boston St Bridge). When you stand in the Center, any noise you make will echo back inside your head incredibly loudly, but those standing outside the Center won’t hear a thing. No official explanation is provided for the acoustic phenomenon, which makes the experience a little trippy, but it’s believed to be caused by a parabolic effect of circular planter walls that surround the Center.