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Oklahoma Historical Society Planning to Reinvent Will Rogers Memorial Museum

Will Rogers Museums

The Will Rogers Memorial Museum in Claremore could look a lot different in the future.

The Oklahoma Historical Society is raising $6 million to reinvent it as a multimedia experience center. Executive Director Bob Blackburn said that will include making collections available online so people in other countries can easily learn more about Will Rogers.

"We need to develop his experience as a Cherokee cowboy and share it with the world. He’s the most famous Oklahoman of all time, more so than Jim Thorpe, more so than Mickey Mantle," Blackburn said.

Blackburn is asking lawmakers for $1 million, but most of the funding will come from a variety of partnerships, including with the Cherokee Nation.

"We want to put together a $6 million package and reinvent it to build a new addition with special events to generate cash so we don’t have to come back and say, ‘We need more money to run this place.’ We’re on track to do it," Blackburn said.

Blackburn said they started in on the idea not long after the state legislature transferred the Will Rogers Memorial Museum to the historical society three years ago.

"When it was transferred to the Historical Society, the instructions to me by legislative leadership was, 'Be an agent of change.' I’ll never forget. That’ll be in my memoir someday, 'Be an agent of change,'" Blackburn said.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.