Unlike the real thing hiding in the grass, Jon Eric Riis’ “Grasshoppers” don’t shy away from admirers. Woven behind a piece of leather with beaded accents, these tapestries are two of a foursome owned by Burt Holmes, Tulsa entrepreneur and QuikTrip co-founder. He bought them at 108 Contemporary. “They’re incredibly unique,” the 88-year-old says. “There’s hardly anything like them in the market.”
Six pieces from Holmes’ renowned and diverse art collection will be on display starting July 1 as part of Philbrook Museum of Art’s exhibition “Tulsa Treasures: Private Collections in Public,” which runs through Aug. 2. It features one-of-a-kind pieces from some of Tulsa’s biggest private collectors.
Originally slated to open March 15, the exhibition was open only 48 hours before Philbrook shut down in response to the pandemic, says Scott Stulen, museum president and director.
Starting July 1, visitors can see the exhibition with advanced ticketing at philbrook.org. Advanced ticketing also is required to enter the museum gardens, which have been accessible to museum members since June 6 and non-members since June 17.
Stulen says the leadership team is keeping eyes on the recent increase in COVID-19 cases. “For months and months ahead, we’re all just going to have to kind of watch it and see what the hospitalizations look like, what the burden on the health care system is,” he says. “The biggest thing, though, is coming to a place where we can still be open, but we’re taking all the precautions that we possibly can to minimize the possible exposure.”
For example, sanitization stations have been added, and one person will be allowed at a time in restrooms. Visitors must wear masks indoors. “People can choose to wear the masks or not once they’re out in the garden … People can take them off,” Stulen says. “But inside the space, because it is so contained, that’s really for protection of each other and for our staff. We want our staff feel safe and feel protected.”
Catherine Whitney, Philbrook’s chief curator, says visitors to “Tulsa Treasures” will see a wide selection of objects ranging from 18th-century French furniture and contemporary art to pop culture ephemera, art deco objects and historical toys.
“Most people never see these personal collections, but they form a kind of ‘hidden museum’ within a community, so why not show them off and share all their interesting stories?” Whitney says. “There is no one way to collect, so we hope visitors leave with that message and think about how the objects in their own lives help define who they are and help to shape our wider community.”