Friends of the Collection: A Postal Plaza Event

Last Thursday evening, OSU President Burns Hargis and First Cowgirl Ann Hargis hosted 200 guests in the Postal Plaza (yes, it is still a construction site!). We spent days preparing the building with space heaters, vacuums, fire extinguishers and signage, and the evening went off without a hitch! Here are some highlights from the event:

Part of the Postal Plaza's set-up included safety precautions like these stanchions around uneven floors and other trip hazards -- but I thought these stanchions made the plumbing look like an art installation, and couldn't resist snapping a photo!

President Hargis started the evening with a strong statement of support for the arts at Oklahoma State, observing that the Postal Plaza project represents a renewed investment in the long-term future of the OSU art collection and its important role in the university’s academic mission.

OSU President Burns Hargis took the stage to introduce the Postal Plaza project and how it fits into a long-range vision for the OSU Museum of Art.

No one was surprised to discover that President Hargis brought his sense of humor to this event!

Guests entered the building through the striking WPA entrance, with its brass, concrete, and brick details—into a lobby whose historic mural, beautiful tile floor, and marble accents were all protected (and hidden) by chipboard and Masonite. Although much of the building was hidden from them, attendees were treated to a sneak peek at the building’s future: renderings by Elliott and Associates, our architects, filled part of the future gallery space, and around every corner, projected photographs of collection objects enlivened future storage, study library, and gallery spaces.

Architects Elliott and Associates provided large-scale renderings of their visions for the Postal Plaza. In the background is a remnant of the student installation project we hosted before demolition last fall.

The enthusiasm was palpable and coming from all 200 attendees, including OSU alumni, Stillwater residents, artists from around the region, and university faculty and staff. If you haven’t already, you can read more about the details of the event in the Stillwater Newspress.

Before the formal program began, attendees heated up the building (literally and figuratively!) with lively conversation -- foreshadowing the building's role as a social hub in the heart of downtown Stillwater.

Rand Elliott, principal of Elliott and Associates, spoke eloquently about his concept for the Postal Plaza facility. “We are sharing an historic moment,” Elliott observed. Malinda Berry Fischer, a beloved Stillwater community leader, then offered her insights into the impact that this project will have on the town and its relationship to the university. “This is overdue,” Fischer noted, acknowledging the widespread support the project has already inspired among Stillwater residents.

Rand Elliot sharing his poetic interpretation of the Postal Plaza mission with the audience. Photo courtesy of the Stillwater Newspress, whose article about this event is linked above. More photos are also available on their site.

As Curator of the OSU Art Collection, I spoke briefly about the history of Stillwater as a center for the arts, and about how the Postal Plaza will significantly enhance our ability to use OSU’s art collection for teaching and research across the university. Moreover, with the additional gallery space, we will be able to bring major traveling exhibitions to Stillwater. And with museum-quality storage and care facilities, we will be able to build our collection with confidence.

A classic Stillwater sunset (who says that a roof cafe at the Postal Plaza wouldn't have great views?) was the perfect orange backdrop for an event marked by laughter, enthusiasm, and a sense of shared purpose. First Cowgirl Ann Hargis, at the center of this photo, continues to be one of the OSUMA's strongest supporters.

All of those attending the Postal Plaza event will be receiving more information about the building’s development. If you also want to get on our mailing list, fill out our contact form, or email us at museum@okstate.edu. You can also find out more about the Postal Plaza and the OSU Art Collection by visiting our new website, museum.okstate.edu.

Unless otherwise noted, photographs are courtesy of Shawn Yuan and Jordan Griffis.

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About osucurator

Louise Siddons is Associate Professor of Art History at Oklahoma State University and founding curator of the Oklahoma State University Museum of Art. She maintains this blog as a record of her students' work with the Museum's permanent collection as well as more generally with topics related to museum studies.
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