Bob Dylan Center Tour
JUlsa’s long-awaited Bob Dylan Center opens May 10! Last week I was lucky enough to get early access. I was excited for the opening mainly because I know my dad is excited about it. He loves Bob Dylan, and I have many fond childhood memories of him playing “Blowin’ in the Wind” and other guitar favorites.
When you first enter the Bob Dylan Center, you find yourself in a large hall with a ticket window and a gift shop. Here you will find BDC products like t-shirts, hats, etc., as well as Bob Dylan albums. There’s even a great section for kids, with picture books and a ukulele building kit! (Do I want that? Yes!)
Most people I saw were walking around with headphones on. So I think you can also buy headphones with a guided tour at reception. I was in a bit of a rush so didn’t do it, but I’m sure it would help as there’s a lot to see and absorb!
The main floor
The main exhibition space is made up of several “columns”. Each column features a different Bob Dylan song and walks you through the process of writing/recording that song. As a (very bad) songwriter myself, it’s fascinating! You can see Dylan’s handwritten lyrics and how a single song has evolved over time. There’s an interactive screen that walks you through about seven versions of the same song, and you can track how key phrases have changed/moved in different versions.
Along the walls of this room you will find a timeline of Bob Dylan’s life. There’s so much to read and watch, I certainly didn’t do it all justice with the limited time frame.
On the north side of this room, you’ll find the Reading Alcove, curated by Joy Harjo. There’s a large wall of magnetic poetry to one side, then a nice, long bench under shelves of relevant reading material. And lots of extra pillows. So if you really want to dive deep into the life and music of Bob Dylan – or Woody Guthrie, Elvis Costello, etc. – take a pillow and a book, and sit down!
Head upstairs and you’ll find even more artifacts from the Bob Dylan archives. According to the BDC website, “The archive consists of more than 100,000 items, including essays, poems, liner notes, correspondence, philosophical musings, unpublished photos and more, covering almost throughout Bob Dylan’s career. Here you’ll see harmonicas and other instruments, large portraits drawn by Dylan, filmstrips and more.
Loved seeing the large bag of fan mail, including a slew of get well cards I assume sent following his motorcycle accident.
A temporary exhibition presents the work of photographer Jerry Schatzberg. Large scale iconic celebrity portraits of Dylan and others.
There’s so much to read and learn that you could easily spend at least a few hours here if you really want to take it all in.
Times and admission
The Bob Dylan Center will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday. It is located at 116 E. Reconciliation Way in Tulsa’s Arts District.
Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors (55+), veterans, and students (18+ with ID). Children 17 and under get in free, as do K-12 teachers. Tickets can be reserved in advance. Plus, adults can purchase double tickets to the nearby Bob Dylan Center and Woody Guthrie Center for just $20. Learn more at bodylancenter.com/visit.