OKPOP Stages a James Garner Homecoming

4 minutes
James Garner as Bret Maverick

James Garner as Bret Maverick

Have y’all noticed how many cool things are in the works in Oklahoma? There are too many to count, but a few I’m excited about include OKANA and OAK in Oklahoma City, Choctaw Landing in Hochatown, the Gilcrease expansion in Tulsa, and a Route 66 Centennial coming up in 2026 to boot. Oh, and did you hear that rumor about the Olympics?

But by far, the up-and-coming I’m most excited about is the opening of OKPOP, the Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture, across the street from Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa. Megan and I got to tour the (so far empty) building last year, and just hearing the vision of the place from its creators, curators, and caretakers was inspiring beyond belief. Once it’s up and running, it’s going to be a transformative presence in the state’s cultural life. After all, a museum documenting the popular culture of, in, and from the state of Oklahoma is going to have some treasures. I can’t wait for OKPOP to open.

Not to contradict Tom Petty, but in this case, the waiting is the best part. Because while we wait for the whole museum to come to life, OKPOP is giving us a sneak preview—a little snack, if you will. Recently, the museum acquired a collection of artifacts from Norman native James Garner, star of The Rockford Files, The Great Escape, The Notebook, and Murphy’s Romance, for which he was nominated for an Oscar.

And for a very limited time—as in one day only—the public (that’s you!) are invited to tour a selection of these artifacts including Garner’s Maverick costume, a selection of items from the filming of The Notebook, and even the Purple Hearts he earned during his service in Korea, thanks to a generous loan from the Military History Museum in Broken Arrow. Plus, Garner’s daughter Gigi will be in attendance for a meet-and-greet.

“It feels like my job to make sure people remember him, especially in Oklahoma,” Gigi said. “My father was most proud of being an Oklahoman. And I want people in Oklahoma and all over the world to know that.”

So here’s the tea, folks: This is happening on Friday, September 22—as I write this, that’s two days from now. The collection is first-come, first-served and opens promptly at 10 a.m., followed by a presentation by Gigi at 10:30. The artifacts will then be on display until 1 p.m. and then poof! Your next chance to see them will be when they appear on display in the museum.

So if this sounds like fun, get there early and get ready for a truly unique experience. OKPOP is located directly across the street from Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa, at 422 North “Bob Wills” Main Street, in the Tulsa Arts District. More information is available at OKPOP's Facebook Event page.

Written By
Nathan Gunter

A sixth-generation Oklahoman, Weatherford native, and Westmoore High School graduate, Nathan Gunter is the magazine's editor-in-chief. When he's not editor-in-chiefing, Nate enjoys live music, running, working out, gaming, cooking, and random road trips with no particular destination in mind. He holds degrees from Wake Forest University and the University of Oklahoma. He learned how to perform poetry from Maya Angelou; how to appreciate Italian art from Terisio Pignatti; comedy writing from Doug Marlette; how to make coconut cream pie from his great-grandma; and how not to approach farm dogs from trial and error. A seminary dropout, he lives just off Route 66 in Oklahoma City.

Nathan Gunter
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