Arts and Culture
With three major arts festivals each year and more than 50 independent galleries showcasing local artists, Oklahoma City's exuberant arts scene provides the perfect mix of mainstream and off-beat art encounters.
- Festival of the Arts: For the past 50 years, the Festival of the Arts has brought imagination to our own backyard as one of the largest and most successful arts festivals in the country. With hundreds of world-renowned artists from across the country, the Festival of the Arts is Oklahoma City’s rite of spring and a must-see event bringing imagination to life.
- Paseo Arts Festival: During Memorial Day weekend artists and musicians fill the streets of the Paseo Arts District, a charming neighborhood offering studios, boutiques and restaurants. The district’s winding streets and original Spanish-style stucco buildings are home to 20 galleries and more than 80 artists, in addition to restaurants, art schools, boutiques and other businesses.
- Oklahoma City Museum of Art: Accredited by the American Association of Museums, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art serves more than 135,000 visitors annually from all fifty states and more than thirty foreign countries and hosts special exhibitions drawn from throughout the world. The museum's collection covers a period of five centuries with strengths in American and European art of the 19th and 20th centuries and includes a comprehensive collection of glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly.
- Civic Center Music Hall: This renovated Art Deco concert hall in downtown Oklahoma City has been entertaining residents since 1937, but a major renovation as part of the original MAPS program gave this venue new life. Called one of the “10 great places to see the lights way off Broadway” by USA Today, now it is home to productions by the Oklahoma City Philharmonic Orchestra, Oklahoma City Ballet, touring Broadway musicals and an annual series of nationally acclaimed artists. For a taste of local talent, the Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma, Jewel Box Theatre and the Carpenter Square Theatre all produce a full roster of live performances, ranging from classic musicals to locally scripted dramas. Oklahoma City University’s nationally known Bass School of Music, which has produced Grammy-, Emmy- and Tony-award winning musicians, and the internationally renowned Ann Lacy School of American Dance and Entertainment produce 250 events throughout the year.
- DeadCENTER Film Festival: Oklahoma City's biggest film festival, attracts filmmakers from across the globe. deadCENTER screens more than a hundred independent films over a five day period in June in seven premiere downtown Oklahoma City locations. Beyond screening world class films, deadCENTER Film Festival hosts a professional panel series and a screenwriting competition for the avid film fanatic.
- Red Earth Gallery and Museum: Red Earth, a museum and gallery dedicated to showcasing Native American Arts, is home to a permanent collection of more than 1,000 items of traditional and contemporary fine art, pottery, basketry, textiles and beadwork. The Red Earth Festival, held every June, includes a juried art competition and a powwow celebrating Oklahoma’s Native American cultural roots. In 2021, Oklahoma City will welcome another world-class museum honoring Oklahoma’s 39 federally recognized tribes. The American Indian Cultural Center and Museum, located along the Oklahoma River, will promote awareness and understanding through Smithsonian-caliber exhibits and galleries.
History & Heritage
Oklahoma City’s history, spanning more than 125 years, is packed full of tragedy and triumph. There’s no better way to understand your new hometown than by getting to know its past.
- National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum: More than 10 million visitors from around the world have sought out this museum to gain a better understanding of the West. Featuring one of the most comprehensive collections of Western art in the world, this is a can't miss stop when in Oklahoma City.
- Gaylord-Pickens Oklahoma Heritage Museum: Through high-tech, interactive exhibits, meet the famous and everyday Oklahomans who have shaped the history of our state, country and world.
- Oklahoma History Center: Located across from the State Capitol, this affiliate of the Smithsonian offers a chance to explore Oklahoma's unique story through interactive exhibits covering geology, transportation, commerce, culture, aviation, heritage and more.
- Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum: Experience this peaceful monument that pays tribute to those who were killed by the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. The interactive memorial learning museum offers visitors from around the world comfort and hope. The museum and outdoor memorial with its reflecting pool give pause to all who visit and provide important insights through special exhibits.
- Stockyards City: The largest stocker and feeder cattle market in the world is located in Oklahoma City. Stroll along the streets of Stockyards City and explore more than 70 businesses featuring Western wear, ranch needs, entertainment and fine dining.
- Sam Noble Museum of Natural History: The Sam Noble Museum of Natural History, located on the campus of the University of Oklahoma in Norman, boasts thousands of artifacts tracing Oklahoma’s natural history, including dinosaur fossils and Native American cultural exhibits.
Oklahoma City has plenty of entertainment for both the young and the young at heart.
- Myriad Botanical Gardens: The 17-acre Myriad Botanical Gardens is a calm and peaceful urban retreat in the heart of Oklahoma City. The park received a complete redesign in 2011 and now residents can enjoy its grand performance lawn, the children’s discovery garden, a dog park and many community and seasonal activities that take place throughout the year. In 2015, the Urban Land Institute awarded the Myriad Botanical Gardens its prestigious Urban Open Space Award. Downtown Oklahoma City’s green space will increase dramatically when the north section of Scissortail Park opens in 2019, followed by the south section in 2021. The programming of both Myriad Gardens and Scissortail Park will complement each other and will offer many more opportunities for Oklahoma City residents to enjoy the outdoors.
- Oklahoma City Zoo: Named as one of the top 10 zoos in the country, the Oklahoma City Zoo features more than 2,000 exotic animals.
- Science Museum Oklahoma: Located next door to the zoo, this museum houses numerous galleries all under one roof. Also features a live science show, the nation's tallest spiral slide and The Dome Theater - Oklahoma's first large-format, dome-screen theater.
- Frontier City: Open from April to November, Frontier City is the region's premier theme park. The park features 28 rides spread over more than 100 acres.
- Boathouse District: Oklahoma City transformed its abandoned riverbed into its crown jewel of outdoor recreation. Today, the Oklahoma River is home to an Olympic training venue for rowing and canoe/kayak and the only permanently lit paddle sports racing course in the world, but even beginners and casual athletes can enjoy the facility through corporate rowing leagues and rowing classes. The Oklahoma City Boathouse District is also home to RIVERSPORT Rapids, a whitewater rafting/ kayaking facility that hosted the 2016 whitewater kayaking Olympic trials. If you prefer to stay on land, the district also includes 14 miles of trails that connect to Lake Overholser, the Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge and Lake Hefner to the north and west of downtown Oklahoma City. Oklahoma River is also home to the Oklahoma River Cruises, which offers connections to Bricktown and OKC’s historic Stockyards City.
- American Banjo Museum: All things relating to “America’s Instrument” are on display at the world-class treasure that is the American Banjo Museum in Bricktown. The ABM features the largest publicly displayed collection in the world, with more than 400 instruments, recordings, film, video, printed music and memorabilia related to the banjo.
- Museum of Osteology: One of the most unique attractions in Oklahoma, the 7,000-square-foot Museum of Osteology showcases hundreds of skulls and skeletons, from tiny bats to a humpbacked whale hovering overhead.
- Orr Family Farms: A local favorite since 2003, families love heading out to Orr Family Farm. From March through June, visit this local farm to pet animals in the Animal Barn, mine for gems, ride the Farm Train, explore and have fun.