World-renowned Oklahoma City native and humorist Will Rogers once famously said: ‘If you don’t like the weather in Oklahoma, wait a minute and it’ll change.’ Indeed, big skies and volatile weather are the essence of Oklahoma City. Equidistant from Los Angeles and New York, Oklahoma City does not have the pedigree of either coastal cities, but with its near-iconic prairies and Native American heritage — plus a cultural scene long on the rise — it is a city with as much history as it has potential.
Here to channel that potential is the new Oklahoma Contemporary arts centre, designed by local practice Rand Elliott Architects. The four-storey, 5,010 sq m building, is situated in the city’s central Innovation District. It provides 743 sq m of galleries for visual art, a flexible theatre space that seats 200, a dance studio and nine classroom studios. This building lies at the heart of a new $26m (£20m), purpose-built campus designed by Elliott that stretches across 1.9ha and includes a sculpture garden, the existing Campbell Art Park, plus a renovated 1910 warehouse, now named The Studios, which houses crafts studios both for local artists and participants in Oklahoma Contemporary’s Studio School arts education programmes.
Launching officially in March, the Oklahoma Contemporary marks the second chapter in the arts centre’s history. The formerly named City Arts Center was founded as a non-profit, community-orientated arts centre in 1989, funded by a capital campaign. It used to operate out of a 1950s building in the city’s State Fair Park, which, until 2002, was also home to the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. Over the years, however, the Arts Center outgrew its existing facilities, which also housed a planetarium. It needed a bigger, better space for its programming needs — and a more central location to engage with the community.
Additional Oklahoma Contemporary launch coverage:
Light is a recurring motif inside and out of Oklahoma City's new cultural landmark
Dawning of a new day: Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center opens long-awaited new home
New arts space finds its muse in the atmospheric Oklahoma sky
The Art Newspaper
An inside look at the finished Oklahoma Contemporary arts center in downtown OKC
KFOR News 4
Architect Rand Elliott talks about Oklahoma Contemporary's new home
Zigzagging aluminium walls wrap Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center
Oklahoma Contemporary Opens New Arts Center Inspired by Ever-Changing Light
New Oklahoma Contemporary draws on the region's light and sky
Tour and Tell: The new Oklahoma Contemporary is going to be amazing!
The Lost Ogle
Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center opens its new building in Oklahoma City