April 19, 1995 was one of the darkest days in Oklahoma City's history. On that day Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was attacked by Timothy McVeigh, subsequently killing 168 people. The site contains two parts, the Outdoor Symbolic Memorial and the museum itself. Inside the museum, you will see 168 empty chairs; one for each innocent victim, 19 of which included children. The most endearing tribute, however, is the part of the fence that has been left over from the makeshift memorial that stood here for five years after the attack. Today, visitors will see letters, photos, flowers and other precious sentiments left by survivors and visitors. Also prominently featured in the memorial is the Survivor Tree, it has become a symbol of hope to the people of Oklahoma City.
Known as the City Arts Center when it was founded by philanthropists John and Eleanor Kirkpatrick in 1989, the renamed Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center features two art spaces, the Eleanor Kirkpatrick Gallery and Circle Gallery, respectively. The former eponymous gallery hosts rotating exhibits and the latter more mixed-media art such as interactive, digital and multi-sensory presentations. Additionally, the focus of the center is not only on art, here the artists offer classes and workshops on painting, two-dimensional studio arts, pottery in addition to many more interesting artistic pursuits. Since the center is a non-profit organization, admission is free, but there is a nominal fee for the classes. Check website for event calendar and schedule of courses.
Spanning across 5000 square feet (464.51 square meters) the Ninety-Nines Museum of Women Pilots tells the story of women in flight. This one-of-a-kind museum is located at the Will Rogers World Airport and is run under the auspices of the Ninety-Nines International Organization of Women Pilots which was spearheaded by Amelia Earhart in 1931. From mementos, exhibits to aviatrix artifacts, it has the largest collection of its kind in the world. The museum also has a display of Amelia Earhart's personal belongings and it is a place full of intriguing and historical wonder for people of all ages, regardless if you are interested in aviation or not.
The Bricktown Canal is one of Oklahoma City's most popular tourist destinations. Loosely modeled after San Antonio's River Walk, this man-made canal runs through the historic, yet revitalized Bricktown district and it evokes an experience reminiscent of that popular stroll in the Alamo city. There are restaurants and attractions on both sides of the canal, some include the Bricktown Brewery, the quirky American Banjo Museum, the Myriad Botanical Gardens and within the neighborhood you'll find Chesapeake Energy Arena, home to the NBA's Thunder. While you are here, don't forget to take a trip on a water taxi, no trip is complete without it!
Stockyards City is a historical part of town that showcases all things Western. When settlers arrived, they used the area as a cattleyard and over the decades it became dotted with packing plants throughout. Today, the cattle market still functions as one of the largest in the world. The packing warehouses are gone, most are replaced with western wear shops and great restaurants, try the popular Cattlemen's Steakhouse, the steaks are outstanding. One of the highlights for guests is the ability to saunter out over a walkway to see the bovines mooing below in the National Stockyards Exchange. If you would like to see a place that played an integral role in the city's history, come down and check out this interesting neighborhood, you might even find that perfect cowboy hat!
When President Teddy Roosevelt signed Oklahoma into statehood in the fall of 1907, its original capitol was in Guthrie. Three years later the capitol moved to Oklahoma City and strangely enough it is the only one with working oil rigs on the grounds. This building is the centerpiece of the entire Capitol Campus and both representative chambers are located in the east and west wings, respectively. The capitol historical society offers tours on the hour from 9am-3pm and reservations are highly recommended. Admission is free, and when your done with the campus and capitol, the trendy neighborhoods of Lincoln Terrace and Capitol View have many restaurants and bars that provide perfect places to rest your feet.
One of its kind, the American Banjo Museum is home to a vast collection of music, media, documents and memorabilia. all connected to this instrument with origins in Africa. With over 300 banjos alone, the museum boasts the largest public exhibition them in the world. The banjo is said to have been introduced to this country by African slaves as it had derived from a similar instrument. Over the centuries, the banjo has come to win the hearts of musicians and music fans everywhere, and is today used in a range of musical genres like jazz, folk music, country music and bluegrass music. A visit to this museum will tell you more about this mystical five-stringed melody-maker.
Overlooking the Civic Center, this downtown urban park is a hub for cultural and leisure activities. Bicentennial Park with its lovely water feature and raised stage is not only a place to gather but also a performance space and the home of the annual Starlight Supper.
Located in Downtown Oklahoma City, [Artspace] at Untitled helps to promote the local art scene through exhibitions featuring up-and-coming local artists. A non-profit organization, all shows here are completely free. The works on display here use a variety of different mediums, including photography and ceramics. The gallery also hosts a variety of one-time events where artists talk about their work in depth.
This great gallery is more like a collaborative workspace for artists of all types. Individual Artists of Oklahoma (IAO) emphasizes experimental art (either subject matter or technique) that is also socially relevant to those living in the state. Up-and-coming artists, as well as established professionals create and play here and have most of their works on display. IAO features all forms of art, including poetry, music, performance, sound, installation, photography, video, and much more. Entry is free.