Five Must-See Oklahoma Museums
While we can only assume the new Lawton mask mandates and any further restrictions are likely to come the day after the mayoral election in September, let's go ahead and point out some of the more interesting places you should aim to visit before Pandemic: Part Two really hits us in the boring box. These are five Oklahoma museums everyone should take a walk through.
Of course this list has to start off in Lawton. Our Museum of the Great Plains is an amazing place to learn about our areas history. From the gallery of famous Great Plains celebrities, the almost-eradication of the American bison, the history of paleontology, there's a lot to take in. The world famous Lawton original Howard Council Saddle Shop now exists in this museum, and each person is welcome to sit down and stamp out their own piece of leather the same as Howard did for so many years on 2nd Street.
The real star of this museum is the tornado exhibit. They called it Terrible Tuesday, and it's the story of the tornado that ripped through Wichita Falls told from the setting of a very convincing and immersive storm shelter. It's loud, dramatic, and something everyone should experience in the safety and security of a controlled setting. It is truly an awesome place to visit.
Referred to almost everybody as "The Bone Museum," the Museum of Osteology is located in a sort of no-mans-land. Some people say it's in OKC, others say it's in Moore, it's sort of located on the line between the two, and it might be the coolest place you could take your kids.
What's the draw? Bones. It's all bones. As the story goes, the founder and owner Jay Villemarette originally took an interest in bones in his youth after finding a dog skull in the woods behind his childhood home in Pennsylvania. When his family moved to Moore, his interest became obsession and he developed a hobby around cleaning carcasses down to clean bones. Living in a hunting community, the neighbors started bringing him more and more dead animals to clean, and over the years he's perfected his own methods of perfectly stripping and preserving skeletal remains of any species. Seeing it as a path to make extra money on the side, he opened a business called Skulls Unlimited in the mid-80's, and as his personal collection grew, it was only natural to open a museum to display it all.
It's really affordable, incredibly interesting, and something every person that finds themself in Oklahoma should see.
The Oklahoma City National Memorial is one of three Oklahoma national parks and an amazing museum dedicated to one of Oklahoma's darkest days. The 1995 Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing. Born in the hatred and disgust of a federal government that massacred so many people in the Waco Siege two years earlier, the bombing of this building was said to be payback to a so-called tyrannical government that willingly murdered its citizens.
I don't think there's one American that wouldn't fight tyranny, but the victims of this bombing were innocent men, women, and children.
It's a very somber experience for most walking the through the monument mall now, and the museum next door is incredibly detailed telling the story and preserving the past.
I've talked about Woolaroc before, but I can't recommend a trip to this museum and wildlife preserve enough. It takes all of the best parts of the National Cowboy and Western Museum in OKC and mashes it with rich Native American history and art. It's also home to one of the largest wildlife private wildlife preserves in the country where you'll see so many different native species, you'll drive home not able to stop talking about it.
Since it is such a long drive, plan on making a weekend of it. Stay in Bartlesville or Tulsa. Give yourself enough time to make the drive to Pawhuska to enjoy the Ree Drummonds Pioneer Woman Restaurant and Mercantile. Take a drive through the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve to see bands of bison numbering in the thousands roam a very rare, untouched natural prairie. It's a cool area up there.
With so many rich, cultural centers to choose from in the Sooner State, you cannot say you've been to Oklahoma if you haven't experienced the Twister Museum... Literally a place dedicated to the most Oklahoma movie that's every come out of Hollywood.
It's in the once-thought fictional ghost town of Vanita. It's way up in North-central Oklahoma, and features a ton of movie used stuff... Actual vehicles, wardrobe and props, even a working original Dorothy data pack. It's only $5 to get in, it's only open a few hours on select days, and it's just fun enough everyone in the car will forget about the incredible drive to get there heading home with a smile on their face.