Although the renovations and restoration of the OMA Museum are still underway, the date for the grand re-opening of the historical museum has been set.
“A New Beginning of the OMA Museum” grand re-opening will be held at 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23 and all day Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022 for OMA alumni and special guests.
The following Monday, Sept. 26, a special celebration will be held from 4-6 p.m. for members of the public and the Claremore area community.
“This is going to be an extraordinary museum – it really is,” said OMA Alumni Association Executive Director Dr. Danette Boyle. “It’s fulfilling the dream that a lot of us have had about a first-class museum that’s both marketable and sustainable, one that will present and preserve the unique legacy of OMA for new generations.”
Turning the dream of the museum into a reality started years ago when a strong suggestion to give consideration to the status of the museum – what it had been and what it should be – was made to Dr. Boyle by General Michael Kuehr.
Kuehr, the youngest of the 10 OMA alumni who went on to become general officers, said the museum needed to be updated and remodeled, and he began “beating the drum” for that idea, Dr. Boyle said.
Months passed, and other alumni got on board, as did RSU President Dr. Larry Rice, who told the board “they could count on RSU for support.”
After research was conducted to determine the scope of the project, the board sought a top museum professional and consultant to guide the project and give the museum its new beginning.
“We needed someone who was very knowledgeable about history, but also a person who was sensitive and supportive about the Oklahoma Military Academy and what it had done and been for its many, many years on the Hill,” Dr. Boyle said. “We were very lucky to get Dr. Bob Blackburn, who had recently retired as the executive director of the Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City. He was known by some of our alumni, because his father had not only gone to school at OMA; he’d also taught there. And Bob Blackburn grew up in Claremore. It was very obvious once we talked to Bob that he was the right person for the job.”
Joining Blackburn on the extensive project were Cameron Eagle, a nationally known artist and museum-exhibit specialist, Dan Provo, director Oklahoma History Center at Oklahoma Historical Society , Chuck Clowers of Generation III helping with the construction of exhibits, and John Wooley, author of the books Voices from the Hill and 100 Years on the Hill and scriptwriter for the OMA documentary The West Point of the Southwest.
These specialists complemented several volunteers, headed by Bill Ramsay, OMA Class of 1961, who also have made significant contributions and suggestions throughout the renovation process.
All of this is, as Boyle points out, required a comprehensive fundraising campaign, with the generosity of OMA alumni, family and friends exceeding the fundraising goal.
“Of course, this museum will focus on the complete history of OMA, from 1919-1971, but it’s going to include personal stories of lessons learned on the campus that have forever guided the lives of our former cadets,” Dr. Boyle said, “and we’re very conscious about its sustainability.”
The “new” OMA Museum will include a high-technology dining and conference room, which can be utilized for meetings, lectures, and video conferencing, in addition to a large area for historical artifacts to complement the museum.
“This (project) has been an extraordinary investment,” she said. “Not only is this going to be a top tourist destination, but also a place where people from all over the area can take advantage of state-of-the-art meeting areas and other facilities. It really is a new beginning – the start of another great chapter in the history of OMA.”
For information on the OMA Museum’s restoration and renovation, and information about opening celebrations, contact Dr. Boyle at [email protected] or by telephone at 918-343-6888 or 918-381-8764.