Philbrook Museum puts its focus on communities

Few people who have seen the Philbrook Museum of Art would argue that its historic Italian Renaissance-style villa and the grounds on which it resides are works of art.

And that was the problem.

“When I first came here, I conducted a kind of unscientific survey,” said Rand Suffolk, who became the museum’s executive director in 2007. “I would ask everybody I met in Tulsa what they thought of Philbrook.

“And I kept hearing the same thing – the villa is beautiful, the grounds are beautiful, and you really need to see Gilcrease,” he said. “Philbrook was better known for what it was than for what it does.

“We as an institution hadn’t figured out how to be essential to our community.”

How Philbrook set about transforming itself into a cultural gathering

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