Celebrating 50 Years

The Oklahoma Museums Association is celebrating 50 years of supporting Oklahoma museums in their efforts to educate, inform and entertain! Follow along using #OMAat50 as we share our history, celebrate accomplishments and charge into the future.

Come celebrate OMA turning 50 on May 24, 2022. Since we were formed in the height of the disco era, we thought it would be fun to have a birthday party, disco style, to celebrate.  The party is free, but we would like a head count for planning purposes. Please register here

Donate here to support our next 50 years serving Oklahoma museums.  

OMA has been making a real difference for Oklahoma’s 500+ museums for 50 years.  In celebration, we have set a goal to raise $50,000 this year. Your support makes a difference.

Since 1972, OMA, a 501c3 charitable organization, has been honored to assist Oklahoma museums with their efforts to educate, inform, and entertain, and we need your help now more than ever to do just that. YOU can HELP make a very real difference for our Oklahoma museums. Supporting OMA at any level helps strengthen Oklahoma museums. As we celebrate our 50 year anniversary, we are encouraging donations to help us reach our goal of $50,000. Give securely online at OKMuseums.org/oma or paypalme/giveoma.  You can give a one time gift or become a monthly sustainer, either way, your support is appreciated. 

OMA is the primary provider of professional development, training, and technical information to staff and volunteers of Oklahoma's 500+ museums, historical societies, historic sites, zoos and botanical gardens, historic houses, living history museums, tribal cultural centers, and other museum-related institutions.

On behalf of OMA, Oklahoma’s museums, and the communities they serve, thank you very much for your support!  

Enjoy a look back at our last 50 years on the timeline below.
Fun facts will be added throughout the year.


OMA’s field service conducted 42 on-site consultations and four regional workshops. OMA also offered three statewide collections care training opportunities and the Oklahoma museum community hosted the Mountain-Plains Museums Association annual meeting. The National Endowment for the Humanities recognized OMA’S traveling exhibit service, TRACKS, as a model program.

A call for nominations was issued for OMA’s new awards program. OMA also received a $65,000 challenge grant from the Kerr Foundation to fund a field services program with the Oklahoma Historical Society co-sponsoring the project. Pledges were received from the McCasland Foundation and the Kirkpatrick Foundation. 

OMA’s membership totaled 95 and the budget had grown to $33,000. OMA’s traveling exhibit service called OMATES, which was established in 1982, was renamed TRACKS. 

Carolyn Pool began working part-time as the new OMA director. The office moved to the Kirkpatrick Center in Oklahoma City.
Donald Bridgewater became the director of OMA. The OMA newsletter was renamed MuseNEWS.
OMA participated in the first International Museums Day on May 18. OMA also sponsored workshops in Tulsa and Oklahoma City on volunteer programs.
In the spring, the OMA office relocated to Guthrie and Alvin Turner was hired as the director. OMA hosted the Mountain-Plains Museums Association (MPMA) Conference at the Skirvin Hotel in Oklahoma City.
The OMA office moved to the Neighborhood Development and Conservation Center in Oklahoma City. Membership totaled 150.
OMA became officially recognized as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, nonprofit by the IRS. Additionally, OMA hired its first coordinator, Robin Tryloff, through grant funds from the National Endowment for the Arts to the Oklahoma Arts and Humanities Council, which is now known as the Oklahoma Arts Council, a tremendous support and partner of OMA. The first OMA offices were located at the Oklahoma Historical Society.
After incorporation, OMA’s programming flourished and included starting a technical bulletin series and two meetings per year. OMA’s dues were $3 for individuals and $10 for institutions. In 1974, the organization’s budget was $1,100.

On May 24, 1972, the Oklahoma Museums Association was officially established, 20 years after the initial meeting of interested professionals. According to the articles of incorporation, OMA was formed with the objective of promoting the welfare of museums and their advancement as educational institutions, as agencies of scientific research and as cultural centers; to foster continued improvement of the museum professional through the development and observance of high standards of ethics, conduct, education and scholarly attainments; to increase and diffuse knowledge through meetings, reports, papers, discussions, publications and various media of publicity and communication; and to encourage cooperation among Oklahoma museums and those interested in them. OMA still continues to execute these same intentions today!
The third time is a charm! After several meetings and discussions throughout the early 1960s, formal workshops were held which led to the formal establishment of an association. This image is of one of the first OMA logos in the 60s. Our current logo pays homage to this classic logo.

The need for a state museums association in Oklahoma is first recognized and informally discussed among 25 professionals from around the state. Although there was great interest in forming an association at the time, an organization was not developed. This issue of Time Magazine discusses the rise in popularity of visiting museums. In fact, by December of 1952, more people had visited New York’s Metropolitan Museum than had visited the Yankee Stadium! It also discussed curatorial and custodial importance at museums.