'Grit and Glitz' — Tulsa Gets Its First Look at OKPOP

Jul 16, 2018

"Grit and glitz" is the concept behind the newly unveiled design of the long-awaited Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture.

"The 'grit' is the concrete and steel that speaks to the work ethic and drive of our citizens. The 'glitz' is the illuminated metal panels that speak to the bright lights and wonder associated with the substantial contributions of Oklahoma’s creatives and their impact on popular culture," said architect Chris Lilly.

The three-story, 52,500 square foot building’s exterior will be made up of black steel, gray brick, glass, video boards, and silver and gold metal panels. There’s a subtle nod to a famous Tulsan’s one-of-a-kind 1954 Fender Stratocaster.

"That gold guitar from Eldon Shamblin that was presented to him here at Cain’s Ballroom in 1954 is the inspiration for the gold on the OKPOP," said OKPOP Director Jeff Moore.

Shamblin received the guitar from Leo Fender while playing with Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys. Fender often gave the musicians prototypes, and Shamblin's gold Stratocaster was different from other musicians', which had sunburst finishes.

OKPOP will also have a third-floor terrace and a special feature visible to all passersby.

"Bob Wills’ bus is coming home to a glass jewel box directly across the street from Cain’s and visible from the freeway, creating an Oklahoma pop culture icon at its front door," said Overland Partners' Tim Blonkvist.

OKPOP was designed by Lilly Architects and Overland Partners. Construction should begin this fall, led by Nabholz Construction.