Tad Jones, executive director of the Will Rogers Memorial Museums, is a Claremore native and graduate of Oologah High School and the University of Tulsa. Jones served in the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1998 to 2010; during his tenure, he held leadership roles including the House Education Appropriation Chairman and the House Majority Floor Leader. After helming the Grand Lake Association, Jones came to Will Rogers Memorial Museums in 2014. We caught up with Jones and got his thoughts on …
… how he got involved with the museums.
I grew up in Claremore and went to school in Oologah, so I have been around the museums all my life. When the position came up to be the director in 2014, it was a dream opportunity to be a part of the legacy of such an inspirational and impactful figure as Will Rogers. I have been the director since then and have absolutely loved sharing Will.
… what the memorial and museums offer.
The Memorial Museum in Claremore houses the largest collection of Will Rogers writings and memorabilia in the world. Visitors can visit 12 galleries to learn about Will’s life and influence, and they can also visit the tomb where he and family members are buried. The Birthplace Ranch where Will was born is just 12 miles up the road near Oologah, and visitors can see the White House on the Verdigris where Will was born and raised.
… whether his political background has helped in this role.
I think it has definitely helped. We desperately needed a new HVAC system when I arrived, and we were able to get funding for that. I have had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people through my time in the legislature, and those relationships continue to be important to the future of the museum, through funding, support and activities.
… the future of the museum.
We are extremely excited about the future of the Will Rogers Memorial Museum. We will be receiving funding from an Oklahoma Historical Society bond package to build a new building for offices, collections and events; have a new entryway; and solve ADA issues throughout the museum. We will also be updating all our exhibits to create the Will Rogers – World Citizen Experience. We will be inspiring people from all over the globe with Will’s life and character traits that made him so beloved.
… how people can get involved.
Our website, willrogers.com, has lots of information for visitors, and we have a fantastic volunteer group called the Ropers who help out with events throughout the year. They greet people from all over the world. Volunteer information is also on our website.
… the best part of his day.
We have a great staff at the Memorial and we have so many wonderful events for the community. Each day brings something new, and I love seeing people come to the museum and smile as they learn about Will or participate in our activities.
… how to help.
When the museum was built in 1938, not only did the Oklahoma legislature invest in the Memorial, but people from all over the country helped fund the building. We are asking the same as we renovate the Museum, as our world needs a positive role model citizen and there just isn’t anyone better than Will Rogers. If you want to help with our efforts, you can visitwillrogers.com and click on the World Citizen Experience button. We would love everyone’s help as we keep Will’s legacy alive.
… his day-to-day.
Right now, most of it is preparing for the renovation of the museum. I am working to raise money and prepare for the major update to the facility over the next few years.