The Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art is a long-standing part of the Norman, Oklahoma landscape. But just because something has been around for a long time, doesn’t mean that everyone knows everything about it.
Here are 4 things you might not know about the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art…
1. The Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art Opened in 1936
The Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art dates back to the 1920s, when Oscar B. Jacobson (1882–1966) began collecting art for the University of Oklahoma (OU) long before the art museum was established on the Norman campus. Jacobson, who was both a painter and the director of the OU School of Art, thought that firsthand contact with original works of art was a vital part of any well-rounded education.
The museum was opened in 1936 by Prof. Oscar Jacobson. His dream was to build an art department which would nurture its students.
Before this museum and art department were started, the closest museum was in St. Louis. The school was also scarce on art supplies. None of this deterred Prof. Jacobson. And the museum was originally housed in a hall that bore his name.
2. Fred Jones Jr. was a World War II Veteran
In memory of their son, Fred Jones, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. Fred Jones of Oklahoma City contributed cash for the construction of a museum building on campus in 1971. During his senior year at OU, Jones was piloting an airplane and the aircraft crashed. He was a World War II veteran who was majoring in business administration.
3. More Than 17,000 Pieces of Art are on Display
The Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma has nearly 17,000 pieces in its permanent collection. From the 16th century to the present, the museum’s collection includes French Impressionism, 20th-century American painting and sculpture, traditional and contemporary Native American art, Southwest art, pottery, photography, contemporary art, Asian art, and graphics.
According to Wikipedia, the museum’s main collections include:
- The Weitzenhoffer Collection: a collection of paintings by Impressionists, including Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Mary Cassatt, Vincent van Gogh, Camille Pissarro, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
- The Fleischaker Collection: a collection of more than 350 pieces of Native American and southwestern paintings, sculptures, and ceramics, including works by Russian Taos painters Leon Gaspard and Nicolai Fechin.
- The McGhee Collection: Eastern Orthodox icons dating back to the 15th century.
- The Thams Collection: containing 32 paintings by members of the Taos Society of Artists.
- The State Department Collection: purchased by the museum in 1948 from the controversial Advancing American Art collection. Part of the “cultural Marshall Plan,” this traveling exhibit was created by the Department’s Office of International Information and Cultural Affairs to demonstrate to the world America’s cultural diversity and cosmopolitanism in the mid 20th century. The collection includes works by Georgia O’Keeffe and Edward Hopper.
- The Eugene B. Adkins Collection: includes more than 400 paintings by American artists and examples of Native American paintings, pottery, and jewelry.
- The James T. Bialac Native American Art Collection: given to the museum in 2010, the collection includes artist works by North America’s indigenous cultures, in particular, the Pueblos of the Southwest, Navajo, Hopi, Northern and Southern Plains tribes, and the Southeastern tribes.
In addition to the museum’s permanent collections, the art of various periods and cultures can be seen in temporary exhibitions throughout the year.
The Weitzenhoffer Collection of French Impressionism was donated to the museum in 2000. The museum was expanded in 2003 with the building of a new wing, which was completed in 2005. The new “hut-like” wing, which was designed by Washington, D.C., doubled the museum’s size and is named in honor of Mary and Howard Lester of San Francisco.
The museum’s current exhibition space is approximately 40,000 sqft with the recent additions of the Lester Wing (2005) and Stuart Wing (2011).
4. Admission to the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art is Free
Admission to the museum is complimentary, thanks to the generous support of the Office of the President and the University of Oklahoma Athletics Department.
In a first-of-its-kind relationship between the art department and the athletic department at OU, the museum offers free admission now and will do so into perpetuity. What a great community of supporting one another!
Where Should You Stay When Visiting the Fred Jones Jr Museum?
Experiencing art and culture at the Fred Jones Jr Museum is sure to be a great adventure. You’ll be able to travel the world through the amazing art on display, all while never leaving the ground in Norman Oklahoma.
If you are interested in viewing the amazing art at the Fred Jones Jr Museum, the best Norman OK bed and breakfast is the Montford Inn. Located within walking distance of the museum’s location on the University of Oklahoma main campus, Montford Inn offers a one-of-a-kind guest experience, including a gourmet homemade breakfast and yummy afternoon/evening snacks.
What Else is There to Do in Norman OK?
Located just a few blocks away on the campus of OU, the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History offers additional opportunities for history and cultural experiences. One of the best college towns in America, Norman OK also has a theater and casinos that offer entertainment.
Along with art and history museums, there’s a variety of great things to do in Norman Oklahoma for individuals of any age and activity preference. The city even has several breweries and wineries that are a great addition to any weekend getaway.