MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Oklahoma News

December 3, 2013

Fate of pop culture museum remains uncertain

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP)  —  Promoters of a museum dedicated to all things pop culture from Oklahoma plan to once again seek funding from the Legislature, though the fate of the Tulsa-based effort remains uncertain.

The Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture, or OKPOP, would be a 75,000-square-foot, four-story building dedicated to the state’s contributions in music, film, television, theater, pop art, comic books, literature and humor, according to a story published in the Tulsa World on Monday.

But state lawmakers have not yet committed to it for the 2015 fiscal year.

“Until we get a better idea of our revenue picture from the Board of Equalization in February, we can’t commit to anything that will have a budget impact,” said Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa.

Last year, a $40 million pay-as-you-go plan over four years was being pushed by the state Historical Society, which would build and manage the museum.

But when tornadoes tore through the state in May, museum supporters withdrew the request, Oklahoma Historical Society executive director Bob Blackburn said.

Blackburn is trying to gather momentum for financial support from lawmakers.

“We are not taking our foot off the pedal at all,” he said. “We still think this will be done because it makes too much sense.”

Previous efforts to pass a bond issue for the facility didn’t garner legislative support.

That hasn’t stopped some of the most well-known Oklahomans from donating items to the cause, including actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth, director Ron Howard and musicians Leon Russell and Kings of Leon.

A gallery inside the Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City contains some of the collections destined for the Tulsa museum, such as props from the movies “Oklahoma!” and “Twister.”

Among the items intended for OKPOP is a puppet used by the man who gave a voice to Donald Duck. Clarence Nash, born in Oklahoma Territory, was the original voice of Donald Duck, Blackburn said, and the puppet is on loan to the state.

“People need to know that Donald Duck was born in Oklahoma,” Blackburn said.

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