Day Trips: Woody Guthrie Center, Tulsa, Okla.

Guthrie Center hits a high note

Photo by Gerald E. McLeod

The Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa, Okla., not only tells the legend of an American original, but chronicles the evolution of American music.

From the outside, the red brick building in an arts district of downtown Tulsa retains the appearance of the warehouse it once was. On the inside is a polished-wood world of artifacts, pictures, and videos that provide visual cues to Guthrie's life and the artists that followed him.

Woody Guthrie in New York City, 1942 (Courtesy of the Woody Guthrie Center / Photo by Robin Carson)

The museum's collection originated as the Woody Guthrie Foundation, administrated by his daughter Nora. The George Kaiser Family Foundation purchased the archives in 2011 and moved them from New York City to Tulsa in 2013. Holding thousands of items related to Woody, the archive is a research center as well as a museum with rotating displays.

Not only does the center house Guthrie's archives, but also the Phil and Michael Ochs collections. In 2021, the new Bob Dylan Center will open nearby. Displays dedicated to Dylan are already being integrated into the Guthrie museum's lineup.

Photo by Gerald E. McLeod

Credited with more than 3,000 songs, Woody was a musical pioneer who influenced a generation of artists. As Billy Bragg said, "All roads lead to Woody Guthrie."

The Woody Guthrie Center is at 102 E. Mathew B. Brady St. in downtown Tulsa, Okla., a few blocks south of Highway 412. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10am to 6pm, with late hours on the first Friday of the month.

Photo by Gerald E. McLeod

Tulsa is in the wooded, rolling hills of northeastern Oklahoma about seven hours from Austin an hour and a half from Oklahoma City. The city caters to tourists coming to the casinos with a large inventory of hotel rooms, good restaurants, and a thriving artist community.

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The Woody Guthrie Center, Woody Guthrie Foundation, Nora Guthrie, George Kaiser Family Foundation, Phil and Michael Ochs Archives, Bob Dylan Center, Tulsa

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