Spring 2017

TU and Gilcrease partner to showcase McFarlin Collection war posters

In conjunction with Gilcrease Museum’s newest exhibition, Black Bodies in Propaganda: The Art of the War Poster, the museum will draw on the extensive collection of World War I material in McFarlin Library’s Special Collections at The University of Tulsa to present The Power of Posters: Mobilizing the Home Front to Win The Great War.

This exhibition commemorates the centenary of American entry into the First World War. As tools of mass communication intended to mobilize Americans, the use of posters has never been equaled.

When graphically vibrant images by well-known illustrators were combined with the latest theories on human psychology, these posters had the power to inspire, inform and motivate Americans at home to support the war effort in a multitude of ways.

Many of the fragile posters from McFarlin’s Special Collections needed conservation work before they could be displayed. Joanna Didik, Gilcrease’s chief conservator, proved invaluable for conserving and extending the life of the posters from McFarlin.

Didik’s international experience includes work at the National Archives of Ireland in Dublin and the State Archive of Poland in Katowice. In both capacities, she worked with a variety of documents, many on parchment, dating back to the 10th century. However, she also worked with 19th century education records and photographs.

Didik’s work to preserve these posters is another example of the success of the TU and Gilcrease partnership. Typically, conservation work like this would be costly, but because of the partnership of the university and the museum, there was no cost associated with the conservation efforts.

See Black Bodies in Propaganda and The Power of Posters through July 9, 2017 at Gilcrease Museum.

Helmerich Center for American Research scholars present work

This past February marked a turning point for Gilcrease Museum and the Helmerich Center for American Research (HCAR). The first exhibition generated by scholars who conducted research on the museum’s collection is now on view at the museum, Plains Indian Art: Created in Community.

The exhibition explores the unparalleled talent of certain individuals and the special role of Plains artists in their communities. Plains Indian Art: Created in Community highlights Plains art as an expression of cultural tradition and community vibrancy, focusing specifically on generational change in style and function and the innovative techniques used by various artists.

Some of the finest Plains Indians art of the 19th and early 20th centuries can be found in Tulsa. Gilcrease has about 25,000 ethnographic items, many of which reflect the height of Plains cultural and artistic achievement of the 19th century.

The Visiting Scholars Program at the Helmerich Center for American Research hosted a symposium on November 13, 2015, that focused on the study of the Plains Indian ethnographic collection at Gilcrease Museum and the private collection of Jon Stuart. Six scholars made presentations on a variety of topics related to the theme of “Art and Artistry of Plains Indian Communities,” focusing on recently conducted research.

Cocurators of this exhibition were four presenters at the Plains symposium: Gaylord Torrence, MFA, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art; Emma Hansen, M.A., Buffalo Bill Historical Center; David Penney, Ph.D., Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian; and Duane King, Ph.D., executive director of HCAR.

The activity at the Helmerich Center demonstrates that Gilcrease Museum in conjunction with TU is building on the museum’s legacy of outstanding scholarship.