Olson Kundig transforms Tulsa warehouse into Bob Dylan Center

The Man of the Year was not there, but some of his biggest admirers appeared this week at TulsaOklahoma ushered in its latest attraction, $10 million Bob Dylan Center.

Built in an old paper warehouse, the 29,000-square-foot cultural center is both a museum designed to appeal to fans of Bob Dylan and an archive for scholars who study the 80-year-old singer and writer, who Winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature for creating “new poetic expressions” in the great American song tradition.

It is the latest addition to Tulsa’s growing arts district, which also includes the Woody Guthrie Center, Kane Ballroom and Chapel Studios, a recording studio once owned by Leon Russell.Tulsa is also home to the Philbrook Museum of Art and Gilchrist Museumthe Oklahoma Historical Society is planning the Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture for the Arts District.

Stacked white boxes containing music memorabilia
Rendering of the archive wall. (Courtesy of Olson Kundig)

Dedicated to the study and appreciation of Dylan and its cultural significance, the Bob Dylan Center is a program of the George Kaiser Family Foundation, which get In 2016, the artist’s archive partnered with the University of Tulsa to acquire a stake in the university for $20 million. The archive is housed at the Gilcrease Museum at the University’s Helmerich Center for American Studies, and then moved to a 5,000-square-foot space at the Bob Dylan Center.

The Kaiser Foundation in Tulsa also operates Woody Guthrie Center Nearby, the directors said they believed having a fellowship center dedicated to Dylan would help boost Tulsa’s tourism industry. Both the Bob Dylan Center and the Woody Guthrie Center operate under the auspices of the Song Archives of America, part of the Kaiser Foundation.

Olson KundigLed by design principals Tom Kundig and Alan Maskin, lead architects and exhibition designers for the Bob Dylan Center. 59 worksspecialist in stage and live event design, collaborated with Olson Kundig on exhibition design and media development, while Eli Lilly Architects One of the designers of Tulsa’s Museum of Pop Culture is the center’s architect of record.

The building’s facade faces a public gathering space called Guthrie Green, which contains images of Dylan based on a 1965 photograph by Jerry Schatzberg. Dylan, who is also a visual artist, contributed a 16-foot-tall metal sculpture at the entrance, but was otherwise not involved in the planning and design, and did not come to the opening.

At last week’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, Mayor GT Bynum said the project is the latest sign that Tulsa is seriously considering becoming a center for American music research. Even before it opened, the Bob Dylan Center had members from 40 states and 13 countries, he said.

Interior rendering (courtesy of Olson Kundig)

The Bob Dylan Center “builds on what came before – the Woody Guthrie Center, Philbrook, Gilchrist, Kane, musicians and artists who come here and draw inspiration from this community, said Ken Levitt, executive director of the Kaiser Foundation. “It’s your dream, our dream, to make this a beacon for generations to come, who will write their poems in Tulsa, play their instruments here, and add to this great story.”

Steven Jenkins, director of the Bob Dylan Center, told guests at the ribbon-cutting that he wasn’t surprised Dylan wasn’t at the festivities. He said the singer is known for focusing on the future rather than dwelling on the past.

“We hope Dylan, if he’s in town, will approve how we do this,” Jenkins said. “But in typical fashion, he doesn’t look back. He’s looking forward to it. He’s thinking, I can only imagine, tomorrow night’s exhibition, painting another painting, writing another song… He leaves us to think about what we have so far. works so far in the archives.”

Hall with entrance to exhibition materials
Interior rendering (courtesy of Olson Kundig)

Designed by Olson Kundig, the former warehouse is located in 116 East Reconciliation Road Contains over 100,000 items from Dylan’s archive, from notebooks in which he wrote down lyrics, to typed song drafts, to previously unreleased recordings. Here are never-before-seen movie performances, rare photos, visual art and unopened fan mail. Much of the material was used to create exhibitions and presentations, including the musical journey that took people on Dylan’s career.

Each visitor receives an audio guide and headphones to help bring the archive material to life. There’s also an “immersive cinematic experience”; a multimedia timeline of Dylan’s life; a 55-seat screening room and a studio where visitors can become producers and mix different instrumental sounds into his songs. Six concrete pillars trace the history of Dylan’s key songs, such as “Tangled Up in Blue” and “Like a Rolling Stone,” from the beginning of writing to the day they were released.

Some files are reserved for scholars only. The center also has an artist-in-residence program, the first being Joy Harjo, an American poet laureate and Tulsa native.

With the opening, Dylan joins Prince and Elvis Presley as musicians with museums in the heart of America, not on the East or West coasts.in a recent interview Vanity FairDylan said he sold his archives to the Caesars Foundation in part because it built the center for Woody Guthrie, whom he admired, and he felt it would make sense to do his work there.

“There’s more vibration on the coast, of course,” he told writer Douglas Brinkley. “But I’m from Minnesota, and I love the casual buzz of the heartland.”

There are few centers dedicated to living artists like this, Jenkins said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. But that means Dylan, who turns 81 on May 24, still has a chance to visit.

“Who knows?” Jenkins said. “Maybe one day he’ll wander in and look around and see what he’s thinking.”

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