Oklahoma Contemporary is now allowing limited public access to a spectacular new arts center on a 4.6-acre campus at NW 11th and Broadway in Oklahoma City. The 54,000 square foot building — home to a main gallery, classroom studios, performance spaces, community lounge, café — and outdoor spaces ensure there is always something new to see and experience.
Thanks to the generosity of more than 200 donors to date, Oklahoma Contemporary has raised more than $27 million toward a $30 million Capital Campaign. Funds supported construction and opening-year programs — ensuring that admission to exhibitions remains free for all ages.
The new center, designed by architect Rand Elliott and built by Smith & Pickel Construction, is a spectacular new cultural resource for Oklahoma City. In addition to providing a world-class facility for exhibitions, performance and education and a breathtaking addition to the OKC skyline, it serves as a “creative commons,” a place for our community to gather, create and experience art. Our arts education programs encourage youth and adults to find their own creativity and learn new skills through classes and camps across multiple disciplines. Incorporating programming from our community partners, Oklahoma Contemporary is a hub for artistic experiences of all kinds and offer the city an event space like no other.
In its new home in a more-accessible location, Oklahoma Contemporary hopes to more than triple program and class offerings for diverse audiences of all ages to meet the growing demand for arts and culture — and hopes to grow its audiences from 22,000 to about 100,000 by 2022.
Three major visual arts exhibitions anchor annual programming — inspiring workshops, conversations and classes to connect diverse audiences to innovative ideas and creative experiences. These shows feature the works of world-renowned artists from Oklahoma and beyond. Admission to exhibitions — and much of the new public programming — remains free. And the art continues outdoors. A sculpture garden features rotating works, and Campbell Art Park hosts large-scale sculptural installations year round.
The new building’s third floor, dedicated to performing arts, serves as a creative home for dance, theater, music, film and culture. Building on Oklahoma Contemporary’s tradition of supporting local artists and attracting the world’s best and brightest, the flexible performance space is home for creativity that moves.
Oklahoma Contemporary’s new Studio School offers an expanded suite of classes for adults and teens, online and in outdoor and socially distanced in-person settings. In addition to courses in visual arts, digital media, performance and literature, Oklahoma Contemporary’s flagship programs in ceramics and fiber arts expands their impact with cutting-edge facilities in The Studios building. Located in an historic renovated warehouse space adjacent to the 54,000 sq foot main building, The Studios house studios for Oklahoma Contemporary's flagship ceramics and fiber programs, as well as spaces for metal and wood sculpture.
From its founding in 1989 as City Arts Center by Christian Keesee and the late Marilyn Myers, Oklahoma Contemporary has been dedicated to keeping art accessible with free exhibitions and public programs, outreach to underserved communities and scholarships for youth in arts classes and camps. The new arts center continues and grows these programs as a cultural resource for our city, state and beyond.
Photo credit: Scott McDonald, Gray City Studios; Brandon Seekins; Rand Elliott.