The Philbrook Museum of Art is an art museum, public garden and historic home located in Tulsa, Oklahoma featuring two locations. The main site is located in part in a former 1920s villa, and a satellite facility known as Philbrook Downtown, is found in Tulsa’s Brady Arts District. Showcasing nine collections of art from all over the world, and spanning various artistic media and styles, the cornerstone collection focuses on Native American art featuring basketry, pottery, paintings and jewelry.
Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma is a general art museum housed in part in a 1920s Italian-style villa, situated on 23 acres of formal and informal gardens. The original structure is the former home of Oklahoma oil pioneer Waite Phillips and his wife Genevieve (Elliott) Phillips.
The collection housed at the Philbrook Museum of Art includes works from Giovanni Bellini, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, William Merritt Chase, Leonardo Drew, Arturo Herrera, Charles Loloma, Maria Martinez, Thomas Moran, Pablo Picasso, Fritz Scholder, Tanzio da Varallo, Rachel Whiteread, and Andrew Wyeth.
Mission: Philbrook strives to be an essential and exceptional participant in the cultural, educational, and economic life of a growing and diverse constituency. Defined by a unique combination of tradition and innovation, our collections, historic structures, programs, and exhibitions are dedicated to inspiring the broadest possible public engagement, access, and service.
The original structure of the museum is an Italian Renaissance villa that was the former home of Oklahoma oil pioneer Waite Phillips and his wife Genevieve. Phillips commissioned prominent Kansas City architect Edward Buehler Delk to design the mansion in 1926; construction began the same year by the John Long Company of Kansas City and was completed the following year. Named “Villa Philbrook” the three-story mansion was constructed of steel and a reinforced concrete framework that resulted in minimal remodeling being required to transform the villa into an art museum. The exterior of the house is stucco that includes ground white marble in the mixture causeing it to glitter. The corners are quoined with Kasota limestone, quarried in Minnesota, that resemble Italian travertine. This stonework also decorates the doors and windows. In the rear of the house, a loggia showcasing five arches with Corinthian columns, highlights a terrace overlooking the formal gardens. The roof features wide eaves and is covered with oversized Italianate tiles.
The interior of the mansion featured 72 rooms decorated with travertine and marble fireplaces and fountains, floors of teak, walnut and oak and ornate ceilings reminiscent of Italian villas. The main rooms of the house were found on the ground floor. The mansion is centered by the entrance hall, framed by a double staircase, that flows directly into the receiving hall. The hall is separated by a slightly raised cross-corridor with a groin vaulted ceiling painted with Italian Renaissance designs, further defined by twisted Corinthian columns and ironwork. The main features of the receiving hall are the beams and pierced screenwork that appear to be wood, but are actually painted plaster. Also, a two-manual Aeolian pipe organ can be found behind a large tapestry. Flanking the entrance and receiving halls and accessed by the cross-corridor are the dining room and library to the left and the living and music rooms to the right. The dining and living rooms feature heavily carved coffered ceilings, and the wood paneled library is centered by a globe light fixture that reproduces a map from the time of Leonardo da Vinci. The airy music room is highlighted by a wall mural with bobbed-hair flappers in Grecian garb that illustrate four musical tempos: scherzo, andante, rondo and allegro.
The museum is situated on 25 acres of formal and informal gardens. The expansive grounds contain elaborate gardens inspired by Villa Lante, an Italian country estate north of Rome designed by Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola in 1566. The formal gardens, with its rills and diagonal walks linking the mansion to the rustic pool below, graced with a classical tempietto, are part of the original design and construction. To the south of the property the gardens extending to the summerhouse were conceived later and completed in 2004. They feature native Oklahoma plants and a refurbished creek.