Olson Kundig has announced the opening of its new Bob Dylan Center, a warehouse-turned-museum that gives visitors exclusive access to the cultural treasures found in The Bob Dylan Archive®. Led by design principal Alan Maskin, the center showcases Bob Dylan’s worldwide cultural significance, featuring a collection of more than 100,000 items spanning nearly 60 years of Dylan’s career, from handwritten manuscripts and correspondence, to films, videos, artwork, and original studio recordings.
The design was an international design competition entry 5 years ago, competing with over 100 global firms. Maskin and his design team did not want to create a monument of a Rockstar, instead, they used the artist’s “creative trajectory” as a source of inspiration for visitors, creating the storytelling of his lifelong legacy. Keeping in mind that throughout his career, he has resisted explaining himself truthfully, the design team knew that there will be a play of fiction vs nonfiction. So the design approach took into account this duality, as well as found inspiration from two movies: I’m Not There by Todd Haynes and Rashomon by Akira Kurosawa, in which the latter defined the narrative structure of the center.
The new museum opened its doors to the public on May 10th, 2022, located in Tulsa’s arts district near the city’s renowned Woody Guthrie Center. Originally a former paper warehouse, the 29,000 sq.ft center is a dynamic, multifaceted venue which houses permanent, temporary, and traveling exhibitions of Dylan’s work, his influences, and projects inspired by his legacy. The center will serve as a space to educate, motivate, and inspire visitors through exhibits, public programs, performances, lectures, and publications. While designing the space, the team took into account three visitor experiences: “swimmers, skimmers, and divers” defining the different user profiles visiting the center and how they will interact with the content of the museum.
The museum features a large-scale façade mural of a rare 1965 image of Dylan, donated by renowned photographer Jerry Schatzberg, an immersive film experience of archival music and film, directed by renowned Dylan chronicler Jennifer Lebeau, a recreation of an authentic studio environment showing what it was like to be present at one of Dylan’s historic recording sessions, the Columbia Records Gallery, which provides an in-depth look at the creation, performance, and production of timeless Dylan songs, and the Parker Brothers Gallery, which explores the creative process through the work of other innovative artists, among other immersive experiences.
The center’s exhibition design and media development is created in collaboration with 59 Productions, a multi-disciplinary design studio who have worked on the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games, the record-breaking David Bowie is exhibition, and the décor concept design for The Met Ball. The project is put together by the George Kaiser Family Foundation, a Tulsa-based charitable foundation dedicated to preserving and maintaining the archives of important American artists through its sub-company the American Song Archives, which also operates the Woody Guthrie Center.
Designed by Olson Kundig
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