Beginning Saturday, June 9, In Citizen's Garb: Images of Native Americans on the Southern Plains, 1889 – 1891, opens in the museum's Terry K Bell Gallery. The current show features 33 pieces from the larger, original exhibit of 53 images, debuted by the Museum of the Great Plains in 2005, and subsequently toured by Exhibits USA. The portraits by photographers William J Lenney and William L Sawyers feature Comanche, Kiowa, Plains Apache, Apache, Wichita, Delaware, and Tonkawa subjects. The exhibit runs through September 23, 2018. More information about museum events here.
From May 5 though June 3, the museum is hosting Works by Robert Peterson, in the Terry K Bell Gallery. Peterson is a Lawton artist who has emerged recently on the state and national scene. Already a number of his works have been acquired by some high-profile collectors. But we don't mean to brag - we'll let his work do that for him! Have a look.
Lots going on during the next three months! Kid Inventor just opened in the Oklahoma Museum Network Gallery. This exhibit features Design, Build, and Test areas where you can (as you might have guessed already) design, build, and test your own inventions. It's a big mess and a lot of fun! In the Terry K Bell Gallery, beginning May 5, we'll feature approximately twenty works by the up-and-coming, nationally-recognized painter and Lawton native, Robert Peterson. Then in June, it's the annual Oklahoma Chautauqua. The morning and afternoon workshops, held in Louise D McMahon Hall, will explore five historical figures: Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Vanderbilt-Whitney, Josephine Baker, Acee Blue Eagle, and General John J Pershing. More information here.
We’ve got plaque! Not on our teeth, silly, but on our walls! In 1998, The McMahon Foundation funded an expansion of the Museum of the Great Plains that created a new main gallery, today’s “E P McMahon Exhibition Hall.” In 2012, The Foundation served as the lead donor to obtain a large grant that renovated the entire exhibit space in the main hall, creating what is now known as the “Donald W Reynolds Great Plains Discovery Center” at the museum, which debuted in November 2015.
In 2003, The McMahon Foundation paid for the renovation of what was once a temporary gallery in the old, original part of the building, which then became a meeting area and rental space at the museum, today’s “Louise D McMahon Hall.” After more than a decade of wear and tear—while serving as a much-needed revenue stream for the museum—The Foundation once again underwrote a renovation of the hall in 2017.
During the Louise D McMahon Hall renovation, we asked The McMahon Foundation to provide wording for plaques to be placed at the entrances to these areas. Visitors see “E P McMahon Exhibition Hall” and “Louise D McMahon Hall,” but many, most, probably don’t know the significance of those names, or the relation of The McMahon Foundation to the museum. So, we hope the plaques will provide our visitors with even more information about the Museum of the Great Plains, The McMahon Foundation, and Lawton, Oklahoma.
The Museum of the Great Plains routinely benefits from many other donations as well. For example, the Terry K Bell Charitable Trust, in 2014, paid for a complete remodel of the museum’s foyer and store, and remodeled a former classroom as the “Terry K Bell Gallery.” In September 2017, noticing a patio area adjoining Louise D McMahon Hall looked a little rough, George and Tresea Moses made a gift to the museum to renovate that space. It’s a popular stop for guests who visit the outdoor exhibits, and now the patio looks better than ever.
As always, we remind everyone of the importance of the City of Lawton to the continuing existence and well-being of the Museum of the Great Plains. Since 1961, the City of Lawton and The McMahon Foundation have, together, played vital roles in the maintenance and improvement of one of Lawton and Southwest Oklahoma’s chief educational and entertainment venues. Thank you, City of Lawton!
Oh, it’s a person? Who? A woman? Well, why would anyone ever name their child that! But then it was 1904….
Mignon, whose name is pronounced like “minion,” was born into an unusual family. Her father was a doctor, her mother a performer, and for a time they lived and traveled in a customized railroad car. The Lairds toured a circuit in Oklahoma, parking for a week or so in a community on a railway siding, where Dr Laird would receive patients. Mrs Laird performed dramatic readings and sang, while Mignon became known for playing the harp and dancing. The family business was similar to a “medicine show,” a type of mid-nineteenth to early twentieth century touring act that coupled entertainment with some kind of medical product or service.
From her childhood, it was almost a natural leap for Mignon to Vaudeville. The name “Vaudeville” applied to a certain type of live entertainment production, a variety show often hosted in local theaters and featuring traveling acts. Many singers, dancers, radio performers, stage and film actors from the 1890s to the 1930s began their careers in Vaudeville shows. Mignon also danced in the New York-based “Ziegfeld Follies,” a glamorous stage production of select chorus girls.
As the Follies, Vaudeville, and other types of live entertainment were supplanted by film and radio, Mignon Laird followed. Later she operated a studio for “stage dancing” and “dramatic art.” She died in New York City in 1984, and her ashes were spread at the Mignon Laird Municipal Airport in Cheyenne, Oklahoma, the site of her family’s former territorial homestead.
Join the Museum of the Great Plains on Saturday, December 23, from 2:00-4:00 for a visit by Santa Claus! He’s brought a sleigh, a couple of reindeer, and a Christmas tree, in case you want your want to take your picture (or see where you are on the naughty-or-nice list). While you’re here, the gallery is open from 10:00-5:00, and admission is only $1 for all ages (children younger than 3 are always free). Finally, check out our Santa-approved museum store for those last-minute gifts. Merry Christmas!
From December 9 through January 7, visitors to the museum can view 33 paintings selected by local artist Jay Bonifield for an impromptu exhibition. His work is beautifully abstract, detailed, and colorful, and sure to catch your eye!
Like many people, when you think of "Indian art" you may in fact envision a style that was first popularized by the "Kiowa Five," a group of students who attended the University of Oklahoma in the late 1920s. Their works continue to strongly influence representations of native culture even today.
During the month of November, the museum's Bell Gallery features a selection of original works and prints, ranging from members of the Kiowa Five to later artists painting in their tradition. Although similar in appearance, each artist is notable for their own personal style. For example, see if you can spot the difference between a Woody Crumbo, and, well, anyone else!
We do! Now through March 2018, the museum's OMN Gallery features Backyard Bugs: An Oklahoma Insect Adventure. Get cozy with some familiar creatures in this latest exploration from the Oklahoma Museum Network. Larger-than-life animatronics, interactive exhibits, and living insect displays give visitors a unique perspective on a bug’s life, revealing the fascinating complexities of our six-legged neighbors.
From time to time, we'll post info here about what's going-on at the museum.