I certainly found a few gems to write about when visiting Tulsa, OK last month for a Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) meeting. On my last day, with only a few hours before my flight back to Houston, I visited the Gilcrease Museum within Tulsa’s northwest hills. The Gilcrease, according to the museum’s website, has “the world’s largest, most comprehensive collection of art and artifacts of the American West.”
What I found most interesting and fascinating was a plaster life mask of Abraham Lincoln – not a death mask as is often the case for many historical figures. And what makes this exhibit particularly unique is that it also includes plaster casts of the 16th President’s hands. Taking a closer look at the mask, it’s indeed “Honest Abe,” the “Great Emancipator” with his very recognizable sunken cheeks and large ears. The museum’s mask and hands casts stem from the original 1860 plaster casts by sculptor Leonard Volk, the mask done in Chicago and the hands in Springfield, IL a few months later. According to the museum’s description of the exhibit, Volk had asked Lincoln to sit for a portrait bust, which included making the life mask.
Another Tulsa highlight was the city’s extensive art deco architecture resulting from the booming oil business a century ago. Zigzag and streamline styles often dominate the architectural designs, found particularly within the lobbies and on the facades of downtown office buildings. They include the landmark Mid-Continent Tower, and the Philtower financed by oilman Waite Phillips.
My favorite, however, is the Boston Avenue Methodist Church built in ecclesiastical art deco style. The church’s soaring tower adds a distinctive touch to the city’s skyline.