Bob Dylan museum opening in Tulsa

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Elvis Costello, Patti Smith and Mavis Staples will be among the dignitaries expected in Tulsa, Oklahoma, this weekend for the opening of the Bob Dylan Center, the museum and archive celebrating the Nobel laureate’s work.

Dylan won’t be there unless he surprises everybody.

The center’s subject and nameake is welcome to visit at any time, although his absence seems perfectly natural, according to Steven Jenkins, the center director. Oddly, Dylan was in Tulsa just three weeks ago to attend a date on his concert tour. It was sandwiched between Oklahoma City, Little Rock, Arkansas, and Oklahoma City. He didn’t ask to take a look around.

Elvis Costello, Patti Smith and Mavis Staples will be among the dignitaries expected in Tulsa, Oklahoma, this weekend for the opening of the Bob Dylan Center, the museum and archive celebrating the Nobel laureate's work.

Patti Smith, Elvis Costello, and Mavis Staples are among the dignitaries who will be in Tulsa, Oklahoma this weekend to open the Bob Dylan Center, a museum and archive that celebrates the Nobel laureate’s achievements.
( Photo by Dave J Hogan/Getty Images for ABA)

“I don’t want to put words in his mouth,” Jenkins said. I can only guess at his reasoning. It’s possible he would find it embarrassing. “

BOB DYLAN TURNS 80: A LOOK BACK AT HIS CAREER

It’s certainly unusual for a living figure — Dylan is due to turn 81 on May 24 — to have a museum devoted to him, but such is the shadow he has cast over popular music since his emergence in the early 1960s. He’s still working, performing onstage in a show devoted primarily to his most recent material. He’s still pushing the boundaries. “Murder Most Foul,” Dylan’s nearly 17-minute rumination on the Kennedy assassination and celebrity, is as quietly stunning as “Like a Rolling Stone” was nearly a half-century ago, even if he’s no longer at the center of popular culture. The center offers an immersive film experience and performance space. It also has a curated tour that allows visitors to take a musical journey through Dylan’s career. The archive has more than 100,000 items, many accessed only by scholars through appointment. The

Museum creators stated that they wanted to create an experience for both casual visitors who may not be familiar with Dylan’s work, and for the truly passionate — the skimmers and divers.

American folk-rock singer-songwriter Bob Dylan performing at BBC TV Centre, London, 1st June 1965.

American folk-rock singer-songwriter Bob Dylan performing at BBC TV Centre, London, 1st June 1965.
((Photo by Val Wilmer/Redferns))

The museum hopes to celebrate the creative process in general, and at opening will have an exhibit of the work of photographer Jerry Schatzberg, whose 1965 image of Dylan is emblazoned on the building’s three-story facade. Jenkins stated that Dylan is still creating and that “we’re going be continuing to play catch up” with him.

How can a museum dedicated to Dylan’s life and work, who was born in Minnesota and raised in New York, end up in Oklahoma?

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He’s never seemed the nostalgic type, but Dylan recognized early that his work could have historical interest and value, Jenkins said. He and his team put aside boxes full a artifacts, including rare recordings and handwritten lyrics, that show how his songs were revised and rewritten. Two of the early displays will be based on the creation of “Jokerman” (with lyrics that were so flexible that Dylan was still changing verses long after the song was released)

Dylan sold his archive in 2016 to the Tulsa-based George Kaiser Family Foundation, which also operates the Woody Guthrie Center — a museum that celebrates one of Dylan’s musical heroes and is only steps away from the new Dylan center.

Dylan himself won't be among them, unless he surprises everyone.

Dylan won’t be there unless he surprises everybody.
(Reuters)

Dylan likes the Guthrie museum, and also appreciates Tulsa’s rich holdings of Native American art, Jenkins said. Much of that is on display at another new facility, the Gilcrease Museum, which is also the world’s largest holding of art of the American West.

” “I think it will be a real tourist draw to Tulsa because of all the right reasons,” stated G. T. Bynum, Tulsa Mayor. “This is one the greatest musicians in human history and anyone who wants to learn more about his career and the evolution of his talents will be attracted to it. “

Bynum hopes it will inspire others to make their archives available and make Tulsa an institution for the study of American music.

Dylan designed and built a 16-foot-high metal sculpture that will be displayed at the entrance to the museum. He had no involvement in the museum’s design, and declined to comment on the opening through a spokesperson.

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“If Bob were telling us what we could or couldn’t do, it would have felt like a vanity project, in a way,” Maskin said. It was a great relief not to have Bob Dylan satisfy me. “

It’s safe to assume that communication lines are open in case of emergency: Larry Jenkins’ brother, Jenkins, is the center’s director.

Musician Bob Dylan performs onstage in June 2009.

Musician Bob Dylan performs onstage in June 2009.
(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for AFI)

In addition to a dinner to celebrate the opening this weekend, Costello, Smith and Staples will all perform separate concerts at Cain’s Ballroom. Costello was asked to program a jukebox that will be on display at the museum and, within a day, submitted his suggestions for 160 Dylan songs and covers, Steven Jenkins said.

The Bob Dylan Center is open to the public on May 10.

Maskin doesn’t expect that Dylan will ever see his work. He still indulges in a fantasy of a lazy summer day, a security officer dozing in the corner, and someone sneaking in wearing black jeans, sunglasses, and a familiar mop to wander among the displays.

” To be honest, I don’t think that’s going to happen,” said he. “I believe he is interested in the work that he does, not what he has done. “

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