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Wednesday, December 27

Oklahoma Hall of Fame : A Hidden Gem!

Tucked into the heart of downtown OKC, there's a hidden gem of pioneer history -- the Oklahoma Hall of Fame!  If you haven't heard of it, you're not alone.  We only recently discovered it, but are already anticipating some excellent homeschool history field trips...

Through each of its programs and the Gaylord-Pickens Museum, the Oklahoma Hall of Fame promotes pride in our great state and honors our state's rich history by telling Oklahoma's story through its people. For 90 years, membership in the Oklahoma Hall of Fame has been Oklahoma's highest honor!

The museum is housed in the old Mid-Continent Life Insurance building in downtown Oklahoma City.  It's in one of those beautiful, old neighborhoods, and has a great view!  One of the things that I liked about the third floor was their preservation of this historic building.  The President's Office has been decorated in period pieces, and there are historic artifacts, photographs, and other memorabilia from the insurance company that first lived in this building.
Here is the 2017 Hall of Fame inductee class, with their presenters.  My favorite here?  Gymnast Shannon Miller...seated in front of my childhood influence, Mary Lou Retton.  😎 The medallion itself has a lot of significance built into it...from the Ts across the top, representing the five native tribes, to the mistletoe encircling it (the state flower).
Outside the President's Office, there is a Hall of Portraits.  For inductees pre-1950s, it's a bit hit or miss, but all of the later ones are included...though it's possible that your favorite may not be hanging when you visit.  The museum keeps 250 of them out at any given time (and supplements with busts or other features from the ones whose portraits are being stored).  The portraits are very nicely done, and the museum has found an opportunity to make them even more informative than you'd think!
Technology is a part of the exhibits, and this continues to increase each day.  In the Hall of Portraits, you can now use an app, Reveel It, to learn more about the person in the frame.  It's simple, quick, and gives you an incredible amount of information!!
Kids these days...everything has to be digital.  I'm not a digital native, but know that my kids are drawn to the more interactive features...and this museum has plenty of them.  Not only that, but they actually WORK.  (If you've been to many kids' museums with digital features, you'll know this isn't always the case.)  They're fun AND!
Using the digital board, you can search for Hall of Fame inductees by name, year, location, or profession.  You can also see how they are connected to other people and locations around the world!  If you're more into old-school research (my preferred style), there is also an Archives that you can come and dig through.
Another tech feature...this one is for the younger kids, or those of us who are just young at heart.  Ever wanted to play for the OKC Thunder, or be the governor?  Step into the frames of an Oklahoman, and you just might find yourself featured on the wall of portraits, too!  
There's truly a little bit of something for everyone here...from the play area for the little kids, to the tech for middle and older kids, to the art gallery (with rotating exhibits), to the bridal suite and events center.  They have a very nice gardens and event center - if you're in the market for a space!
There are either portraits or busts of nearly every inductee to the Hall of Fame.  For inductees pre-1950s, it's a bit hit or miss, but all of the later ones are there.  We looked up Wiley Post (for the aviator) and Jim Thorpe (the closest inductee to our geographical area).
We learned that there are five elements to the "Oklahoma Spirit," :  individualism, generosity, pioneering, optimism, and perseverance.  Each of these characteristics is chronicled by an area full of inductees who epitomized that element of spirit, complete with their stories.  Even if you think you know Oklahoma, you'll come out with so much new's truly amazing.
Before leaving, be sure to check out their gift store, chock full of goodies from Oklahoma businesses and about Oklahoma people.  We came home with some OKC Thunder mini-basketballs, a nice, leather desk organizer, historical memorabilia magnet, and a book on Wiley Post.  They also have a to of Pioneer Woman stuff (which I would have checked into further if my baby sis didn't already have way too much of it!) stocked front and center.  😉
This isn't your typical museum.  It's got a little bit of something aimed at every age and interest, the common ground being that it all centers around Oklahoma.  If you're new to the state and wanting to learn more, ready to tackle that high school OK History requirement, or just proud of your Oklahoman heritage, you'll learn so much more here than you ever imagined!  Before leaving...we had to go back and check out Wiley Post (as a follow up to the little aviator's Aviation Unit Study) just one last time...

Just the Facts :
  • HOURS: Tuesday-Friday: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Saturday: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. 
  • Visit to confirm hours. 
  • PHONE: 405.235.4458 or 1.888.501.2059 
  • Educational Resources page :
  • Coupon : Present this coupon for Free admission to the Oklahoma Hall of Fame at the Gaylord-Pickens Museum .  Not valid with any other offer. Coupon valid for up to 5 admissions.

Oklahoma Land Run Unit

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