Kilns had been test-fired, looms were lined up, and the artwork for the opening exhibitions were installed. More than 1,000 tickets had been sold to an exclusive gala celebration, and for the public opening, plans for extended hours and free OKC Streetcar rides were in place.
Then, the coronavirus came to town, forcing the nonprofit multidisciplinary arts center to indefinitely postpone its grand opening festivities and subsequently cancel the initial spring session of its Studio School.
"It was absolutely the right decision," said Oklahoma Contemporary Executive Director Eddie Walker. "We could have been front page (news) for all the wrong reasons a few weeks after that. ... (With) 1,000 people, it could have been bad."
More than a month after the scheduled grand opening, the 4.6-acre campus with its shiny new 54,000-square-foot main facility, renovated 10,000-square-foot studio building and three-block arts park remains closed to the public.
Walker announced Friday that the new Oklahoma Contemporary won't open to the public until at least mid-July due to the ongoing pandemic. The arts center also has canceled the summer sessions of its Studio School and most of its slate of Camp Contemporary summer art camps.
"While we all want open the doors right now, it's just not responsible. ... Our senior team has really been paying very close attention to everything that's happening on the local level as well as on the national level ... and we kind of put together a by-phase plan that says 'When these certain conditions occur or are met, then this level of activity can happen,'" Walker said.
Additional Phased Opening Plan coverage:
New Plans Set For Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center After Virus Delays Opening
Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center delays new home's opening, cancels summer classes and camps
Virus ruins opening of two major museums