James Pepper Henry, Executive Director of the Gilcrease Museum, Has Big Plans for the Future
On this installment of ST, we speak with James Pepper Henry, who began his tenure as the executive director of the Gilcrease Museum about four months ago. As was recently reported by KWGS, Pepper Henry has requested $75 million out of a proposed Vision 2025 sales-tax renewal. This money, combined with $50 million from the University of Tulsa, would mainly be used to pay for a 100,000-square-foot expansion at the museum, including a new entrance hall and a 12,000-square-feet changing exhibition space. The Gilcrease Museum, owned by the City of Tulsa and managed by TU, is in serious need of not just a facelift, as Pepper Henry explains to us, but also an overall image re-branding. After all, this museum has a collection that's worth, at a conservative estimate, $2 billion. "That's a two followed by nine zeroes," as Pepper Henry notes. And yet Tulsans, he admits, sometimes think of Gilcrease as a remote or otherwise inaccessible facility. Pepper Henry also talks about how Gilcrease's enhancement would ideally include refurbishing Gilcrease Museum Road, adding a bike path to connect the museum to the rest of Tulsa, constructing an outdoor auditorium behind the museum, and "building up" the facility itself such that it could both see and be seen by nearby downtown Tulsa.