Massive Bob Dylan Archive Opens in Oklahoma
The Bob Dylan archive in Tulsa, Oklahoma is now open to select groups and individuals with qualified research projects. Those hoping to view and use the archive at the Helmerich Center for American Research at the Gilcrease Museum will have to submit a Research Associate Application to the librarian and a list of relevant items from the archive’s online finding aid.
Select items from the collection will eventually be exhibited at the Bob Dylan Center, the primary public venue for the archive. The George Kaiser Family Foundation’s Executive Director Ken Levit, and University of Tulsa President Gerard Clancy, announced that they are now accepting design proposals for the Bob Dylan Center, which will be housed in an existing building in Tulsa’s Brady Arts District. An expected opening date has yet to be announced.
The call for proposals hints at TU’s and the GKFF’s hopes that Bob Dylan Center allow for public engagement with items from the archive, permanent and temporary exhibits, research facilities and space for educational programming, indoor events and performances.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Levit spoke about broadening access to the Dylan archive in the future. “I don’t think we will be serving the mission of our foundation if that is not contemplated in a very broad way,” he said. “It’s our goal that the materials be studied, enjoyed and reflected upon.”
The University of Tulsa and the GKFF acquired the Dylan archive in 2016 for an estimated price between $15 and $20 million. The collection includes over 6,000 artifacts spanning nearly 60 years, including handwritten lyrics, photographs, contracts, private letters and video and audio recordings.
Already, two projects are in the works based on materials from the archive. Historian and Rolling Stone contributor Douglas Brinkley is working on a new book, Dusty Sweatbox Blues: Bob Dylan and the Open Road 1974 – 1978, about Dylan’s mid-Seventies output that’s expected to be published in 2018. Author and TU professor Randall Fuller is also researching a book about the relationship between Dylan and African American music.