Tulsa is one of the most booming cities in Oklahoma, and its rich history has helped shape the vibrant atmosphere that can be found there today.
Native American heritage, Wild West history, modern art, and jazz are all part of Tulsa’s culture – and the 10 museums below are the absolute best way to help you feel the pulse of this unique city.
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1. Philbrook Museum of Art
Boasting a large collection of art and artifacts dating from ancient times to the present, the Philbrook Museum of Art is one of the best museums in Tulsa.
Housed in a beautiful 1920’s mansion, the building itself adds to the artistic ambiance of the museum – as do the 25 acres of Tuscany-inspired gardens. The grounds are so stunning that the Philbrook has actually been voted as the most beautiful place in Oklahoma by House Beautiful magazine.
The gardens are open year-round, but the best time to wander through them is in late spring when the flowers are in full bloom.
Inside the museum, you’ll find a large collection of galleries with European, Asian, African, and Native American artwork. There are also rotating exhibits and fun events hosted at the museum throughout the year, including concerts and garden meditation.
2. Gilcrease Museum
If you loved the Native American artifacts at the Philbrook, the Gilcrease Museum houses an even more impressive accumulation of relics.
The museum boasts the largest collection of items related to the American West with over 350,000 pieces of art and artifacts. There’s even an archive of hundreds of thousands of books, documents, and maps housed inside of the museum.
There are so many items that less than ten of the pieces can be shown at any given time – making the Gilcrease a place that is fun to explore over and over again.
The museum also offers rotating exhibits, a historically themed garden, a kids center, and a restaurant. You may also want to plan your trip around one of the special events that are hosted throughout the year, or come on the first Tuesday or the third Sunday of the month for free entry to the museum.
3. Tulsa Historical Society and Museum
Those looking to learn more about Tulsa’s recent past should head to the Tulsa Historical Society and Museum. The museum’s mission is to illuminate the past, enrich the present, and inspire the future.
Inside, you’ll find eight rotating exhibits that tell the city’s story with the help of photographs, architectural remains, books, documents, art, and even a few cars. The exhibits change frequently – so even if you’ve been here before, you’ll likely get a new experience every time you visit.
The museum is housed in the historic Travis Mansion and has beautiful grounds that are worth taking a stroll through after your time inside.
4. Ahha Tulsa
Founded in 1961, Ahha Tulsa is one of the most innovative museums in the city. In a mission to bring cultural awareness to everyone in the community, Ahha is an inclusive and diverse art museum featuring large installations, classes, and other hands-on experiences.
The museum is non-profit, and throughout the years they have been able to help fund school art programs and provide equipment and studio space for local artists.
Ahha Tulsa also hosts a variety of fun events throughout the year, from art festivals and holiday parties to art crawls and gala fundraisers.
5. Woodie Guthrie Center
Whether you’re a fan of the late singer-songwriter or not, if you’re in Tulsa you should definitely check out the Woodie Guthrie Center.
In addition to proving information about this Oklahoma native, the museum is also dedicated to spreading Guthrie’s message of diversity, equality, and justice. As you walk through the center you’ll find interactive exhibits, educational material, and of course, lots of music.
There are also a few rotating exhibits that highlight the connection between politics and music and feature like-minded artists, and a variety of fun events held virtually and in-person throughout the year.
This is easily one of the most entertaining museums in Tulsa, so it’s recommended to plan on spending at least a few hours making your way through the galleries.
6. The Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art
The Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art houses one of the most extensive collections of Judaica in the southwest, including fine art, relics, and special exhibits that showcase the resiliency of the Jewish people throughout history.
You’ll learn all about traditional Jewish practices, ceremonies, and holidays as you walk through the museum, and you can view a wide variety of documents and artifacts dating back to ancient times. There are also a few modern exhibits about the Jewish immigrants who settled in this area in the 19th and 20th centuries.
The impactful yet tasteful Holocaust Exhibition is one of the most popular exhibits the museum, featuring testimony from refugees of Nazi Germany, survivors of the concentration camps, and Oklahoma veterans who fought in the war.
7. Vintage Sewing Center and Museum
If you’re big into sewing or simply love antiques, then a trip to the Vintage Sewing Center and Museum is a must while visiting Tusla. The museum features hundreds of vintage sewing machines from the 1800s, from non-electric treadles to beautiful hand-cranks – and even a few industrial leatherworking treadles.
Take a self-guided tour, or indulge the ecstatic curator and let him take you through the history of the old machines.
Even if you’re not a sewer yourself, you’ll have a hard time not enjoying this large collection of sewing machines. If you feel inspired after visiting the museum, you can always come back and partake in one of the sewing classes
8. Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame
Jazz lovers should put the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame at the top of their list when visiting Tulsa. Housed in the old Union Depot, now referred to as the Jazz Depot, this beautiful building is part museum and part music venue.
You’ll find biographical information, artifacts, pictures, and memorabilia about some of the most beloved Oklahoma jazz artists.
The acoustics inside the building are astounding – so don’t miss out on your chance to see one of the regularly held jazz performances that take place while you’re in town.
9. The Outsiders House Museum
Fans of the 1980s flick, The Outsiders, can have their fan moment at the house museum while visiting Tulsa.
The house really is a house, not a set, and from the outside, looks quite unassuming. Those who have seen the movie, however, will recognize it instantly. The home is where the movie was filmed, and is full of memorabilia, scripts, costumes, and props that were used in the film.
There’s also a gift shop and a large tour bus that will take you on a cruise through the neighborhood (COVID restrictions pending). After you’re done geeking out about the house, head to the nearby Crutchfield Park, where the big fight scene was filmed.
10. Tulsa Air and Space Museum
Take a trip to space while in Tulsa at the Tulsa Air and Space Museum. While you won’t really be leaving earth, you’ll certainly gain some insight into aerospace.
This interactive and science-based museum and planetarium offers visitors a chance to learn about Oklahoma’s aerospace and aviation history through hands-on exhibits inside and out.
Listen to interviews from Pearl Harbor survivors, check out the B-17 parked outside, or catch a show about the solar system. Be sure to allot plenty of time for the Tulsa Air and Space Museum, because there’s a lot to see here!