My Favorite Museum: Woolaroc

Researching Lonely Planet guidebooks, you end up seeing dozens and dozens of museums no one would really bother with. Some of them I loved. The Romanian Peasant Museum in Bucharest, for example, has hand-written signs and an arrow leading to a makeshift “grandma” room. It’s filled with various knick-knacks once belonging to various grandmas, with the gentle suggestion that “life is busy, but we should always keep one grandma keepsake after she dies.” That’s the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen.

But it’s not my favorite museum. My favorite, decked in limestone and nostalgia, is the museum at Woolaroc, a collection of Western and Native American art at the one-time summer home of Frank Phillips of Phillips ’66, in the rolling prairies of the Osage Nation outside Bartlesville, Oklahoma. I’ve been, probably 20 times (and counting) in my life, often meeting cousins to picnic to the soundtrack of locust buzz and lingering long below paintings of Custer’s Last Stand.

There’s plenty of wildlife to see and one fake one I love: a (fake) talking buffalo, who used to suck up trash and still tells you not to touch him if you pet him. Which I always do.

The video above is a look at Woolaroc (named for the area’s Wood, Lakes, Rocks) in 15 seconds.

About Robert Reid

Robert Reid is a travel writer (Lonely Planet, New York Times, ESPN), travel expert (Today Show, CNN's Headline News), travel videographer (76-Second Travel Show) and travel artist (don't ask).
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3 Responses to My Favorite Museum: Woolaroc

  1. allezallie says:

    I love this post! I think I went to Woolaroc about once a week growing up, and have fond memories of feeding trash to the taxidermy buffalo and that powwow automaton. I also can’t forget the OK Mozart concerts around the lake or the drama of the museum entrance hall with the pioneer figures standing as statues around the room. It’s still my favorite museum as well!

  2. Robert Reid says:

    For me, always, all museums will be judged by how they compare to the ‘interactive’ talking buffalo exhibit at Woolaroc. The Met don’t got one.

  3. louisxivorama says:

    Oh Woolaroc I miss thee! I also really loved the ceiling that changed colors as you walked in. And that creepy Boy and Girl Guide video in the gift house/lodge building with the auditorium. That video scared me silly during most of the 80s. The talking buffalo who will eat your buffallo burger trash is real special though. Sadly nothing like this exists in the UK either (where I am currently exiled). Cambridge may have the Fitzwilliam and I suppose the Tate Modern isn’t too shabby but nothing compares. Ipswich museum does have a ‘taxidermied’ Woolly Mammoth…FYI

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