The state Senate on Tuesday approved legislation that would provide funding for construction of the Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture, better known as OKPOP. Authored by Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, Senate Bill 839 would provide a $25 million bond for construction of the museum, which will require no new state appropriations to fund operations.
“The Oklahoma Historical Society’s track record of building self-sustaining facilities, and their credible, realistic business plan for OKPOP assure us this project will be a success,” said Bingman, R-Sapulpa. “Significant private sector pledges have already been secured, and our state’s cultural community has fully embraced the project. This is the right plan at the right time, and it gives us a rare opportunity to have a world-class museum that will celebrate our state and have a positive economic impact.”
Under SB 839, state-appropriated funds that are currently being used to retire bond debt for the Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS) facility will remain in the Historical Society’s budget and be directed to OKPOP.
Land for the facility has been donated, and an estimated $10 million in exhibits and collections will also be donated, rather than purchased. OHS has secured prominent collections from figures such as Garth Brooks, Will Rogers and Bob Wills, among numerous others.
“This bill gives us a chance to secure and promote the kind of important historical and cultural material that is currently being exhibited in museums in Nashville or California,” Bingman said. “The thorough and careful planning that has gone into this plan ensures that we can do so in a fiscally responsible way.”
SB 839 now advances to the House for consideration.