Photo courtesy Philbrook.
Photo courtesy Philbrook.

[dropcap]The[/dropcap] Philbrook Museum of Art has always been a community-focused institution, making Scott Stulen, who was named the museum’s new director in June, a great fit to lead the museum forward. Stulen formerly worked at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, where he created the first curatorial department dedicated to audience experience in the U.S., and he plans to use that experience to continue and enhance Philbrook’s role as a cornerstone in Tulsa’s cultural community. We recently spoke with Stulen to get his thoughts on…

…what’s exciting about starting as director of Philbrook.

There are a lot of things. One is Philbrook is on the cutting edge of where the future of museums is going. I’ve been following the work of what they’re doing there for several years, and I’m excited to take it to the next chapter.

…expanding the programming available at the museum.

I really hope that we have at Philbrook a place people can come for very different experiences multiple times during the year. You might come for a holiday light show, then for a music festival and later for drinks and a movie with your friends. I think vibrant cultural institutions like museums should be a hub for those things. Philbrook has already been doing a lot of this, so I think the thing is to come in and enhance it and take it a little further.

…the museum’s campus in downtown Tulsa.

I think we’ve barely scratched the surface of the potential there. I think it can be a great entry into the museum, and hopefully they’ll go to the main campus then. But even if they don’t, it gives them a great entry to art and provides this incredible platform to expose people to the really interesting things that are happening. Just by being in the place where people are, it changes the game.

…becoming part of the Tulsa community.

Tulsa as a city has a really rich cultural community, and one that’s starting to emerge nationally now, and I’m excited to be part of that. I want more and more people to know what’s happening in Tulsa. I think it’s a real sign of growth when you’re not trying to emulate a city but have your own identity and vision. What’s great is Philbrook is a part of that and has been for years, and I hope that continues to be the case.

…his first steps as Philbrook’s director.

I think one of the things I want to do is sit down and meet with a lot of people inside the museum and the city and talk about the cool things that are happening already and what we can do to move forward. The staff is amazing, and there are already incredible resources from the collection and the campuses. It’s just really exciting to step into a situation like this where it’s not starting from zero. We’re already on the path of changing what museums will be for this generation, and I’m hoping we can take that to the next level.

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