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8 Ways To Experience Oklahoma City's Art Scene

Updated: Feb 3, 2023

Before going to a city for the first time, I make it a habit of looking up what kind of art museums it has. And I do this for several reasons: 1) the collections are different everywhere you go; 2) you can learn a lot about the city, other cultures, historical periods and more; 3) it's typically an experience that's indoors, which means I can still do it in the winter; and 4) I simply enjoy art.

When I first visited Oklahoma City, and then moved here, I discovered that it actually has a pretty big art scene. Honestly, it's got the works — traditional and immersive museums, contemporary galleries, outdoor illustrations and sculptures, etc. — and I would definitely recommend most of these experiences to visitors. So, if art is what you're into, check out the eight artsy things you can do in OKC.


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1. Visit the OKC Museum of Art.

This is probably the most popular and mainstream location to see art in the city. The Oklahoma City Museum of Art has three floors of galleries and includes exhibits of portraits, Greek mythology, animals and more. My favorite collection here, however, is on the third floor and showcases work by Dale Chihuly, a glass artist. You can also find his 55-ft glass statue in the entrance area of the museum.

Note: I’ve seen Dale Chihuly’s work before at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas. If you enjoy his work on display in OKC, I definitely recommend you check this museum out, too.

2. Take a photo at your favorite mural.

OKC was recently named 2021’s “Best City for Street Art” by USA Today, and for good reason. There are murals EVERYWHERE: down alleys, in parks, on prominent buildings, under bridges, you name it. You really can’t escape them if you’re walking or driving in the city, and most of them are pretty cool — and perfect for an Instagram photo.

Tip: Start your street art journey at the Plaza Walls, a rotating mural project. You can also Google “OKC murals” or search #okcmurals on Instagram to give you some ideas of what you might want to see as well as some starting locations.

3. Check out the 21C Museum and Hotel.

A boutique hotel chain, 21C Museum and Hotel also includes a free gallery in all of its locations. Inside the OKC building, specifically, everything looks very classy and creative, including the art. According to its website, the exhibits rotate. While I was there, I enjoyed a gallery of consistent illusions: some of the pieces changed as I walked by, transformed after taking a photo of them or moved with my movements.

4. Feel your way through Factory Obscura - Mixtape.

Honestly, the best adjectives I can come up with for this experience are “trippy” and “interactive.” The artists have created an immersive space in which visitors are meant to touch, listen to and engage with everything. In one room you’re under the sea, and in another, at a carnival. You can spend time at a disco club or in a library. Although these places might sound normal, you’ll actually feel like you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole and into Wonderland where everything has become topsy-turvy!

Note: This museum is great for kids!

5. Explore the galleries in the Paseo Arts District.

Did you know that there’s an entire district in OKC for the arts? You’ll discover galleries, creative shops and trendy restaurants there. Every first Friday, businesses stay open later than usual, and annually, on Memorial Day weekend, there’s an art festival. The buildings themselves are even artistic and showcase the stucco style as well as create a rainbow effect across the district since the buildings have been painted bright colors.

6. Spend an afternoon at Fred Jones Jr Museum of Art.

I was very impressed by the University of Oklahoma's collection. Out of all the art museums in the area, it had the most pieces to view. Every time I thought I found the end of a room, another one connected to it or there were stairs that led to a new gallery. You'll find everything from European, Asian and American art to pieces from Eugene B. Adkins and Weitzenhoffer. Be sure to check out the statues around the building, too.

Note: If you're someone who really enjoys art museums, remember that this one is much bigger than the others in OKC, so allow yourself enough time to get through it.

7. Find all 21 designs on the Door Tour in Automobile Alley.

In the Automobile Alley district, there are 21 doors covered in illustrations by 13 artists that you can walk to and view. Called the "Door Tour," it was a project intended to beautify the area, and, in my opinion, it definitely has! You might be wondering if I actually found all 21 doors ... Of course, I did! And, took pictures of them all. It's actually a really fun experience, as it feels like you are on a scavenger hunt and have no idea what picture is coming next.

Tip: Be sure to take out your phone and scan the QR codes by each door. They will give you more information about the artists and designs.

8. Experience Oklahoma Contemporary.

Although I'm not an artist or well-versed in art, I could tell that the exhibits in this museum were designed to get you thinking and wondering. On the second floor, you’ll find the main installation (the current theme is “Open World: Video Games and Contemporary Art”) and another smaller experience, and there’s one more installation on the third floor. It's not a huge place, but it is free!



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