What does it mean to f-ee-ee-l? Opening of the Bob Dylan museum in Tulsa

Dylan won't be there unless he surprises everybody.

What does it mean to f-ee-ee-l? Opening of the Bob Dylan museum in Tulsa

Dylan won't be there unless he surprises everybody.

Patti Smith, Elvis Costello and Mavis Staples are among the dignitaries who will be in Tulsa this weekend to celebrate the opening of The Bob Dylan Center, a museum and archive that honors the Nobel laureate.

Steven Jenkins, the center director, stated that the subject of the center and its namesake is welcome to visit anytime. However, his absence seems perfectly natural. Dylan was in Tulsa just three weeks ago to perform on his concert tour. He was sandwiched between Little Rock and Oklahoma City. He didn't request a tour.

Jenkins stated, "I don’t want to put words into his mouth." I can only guess at his reasoning. It's possible he would find it embarrassing.

Although it is unusual for Dylan, a living person, to have a museum dedicated to him -- Dylan will turn 81 in May -- such is his influence on popular music since the 1960s. He is still active, performing onstage at a show that focuses mainly on his latest material.

He's pushing the boundaries. Dylan's almost 17-minute rant on Kennedy's assassination is "Murder Most Foll", and it's as stunning as "Like a Rolling Stone" nearly a century ago. Even though he's not the center of popular culture anymore,

The center features an immersive film experience, performance area, and a studio where visitors can "mix" and produce Dylan's songs. It also offers a curated tour that allows people to take a musical journey through Dylan's career. There are more than 100,000 items in the archive, some of which can only be accessed by scholars who have made an appointment.

According to designer Alan Maskin from Olson Kundig, museum creators wanted to create an experience that was both accessible for casual visitors, who may not be familiar with Dylan's work, and for those who are more knowledgeable -- such as the swimmers, skimmers and divers.

The museum hopes that it will celebrate creativity in general. At opening, the museum will feature an exhibit of Jerry Schatzberg's work, which is displayed on the three-story façade. Its 1965 photograph of Dylan is prominently displayed.

Jenkins stated that Dylan is still creating and "we're going continue to play catch up" with him.

How does it happen that a museum dedicated to his life's work is located in Oklahoma, when a Minnesota-born figure was raised and became a musician in New York?

Jenkins stated that Dylan was not a nostalgic person, but he recognized from an early age that his work might have historical value and interest. He and his team put aside boxes of artifacts including rare recordings and handwritten words that document the revisions and rewrites of his songs.

Two of the first displays will use those lyrics to show how "Jokerman", and "Tangled Up in Blue" were created. The latter song featured lyrics so flexible that Dylan would still change verses long after the song was released.

Dylan sold his archive to the George Kaiser Family Foundation in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 2016. This foundation also runs the Woody Guthrie Center, a museum that honors Dylan's musical heroes. It is just steps from the new Dylan center.

Jenkins stated that Dylan enjoys the Guthrie Museum and appreciates Tulsa’s extensive collection of Native American art. Many of these items are on display at the Gilcrease Museum, which also houses the largest collection of American West art in the world.

G. T. Bynum, Tulsa Mayor, stated that he believes it will be a tourist attraction to Tulsa because of all the right reasons. "This is one the greatest musicians of all time and anyone who wishes to learn more about his career and witness the evolution of his talents will be attracted to it."

Bynum hopes it will encourage others to do the same and make Tulsa an institution for studying modern American music.

Dylan created and constructed a 16-foot tall metal sculpture that will be displayed at museum's entrance. Aside from that, Dylan had no involvement in the design of the museum and declined to comment on the opening through a spokesperson.

Maskin stated that if Bob had told us what we could and couldn't do it, it would have felt like a vanity endeavor. 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: Jenkins, the center director, is Dylan's brother and long-time media representative.

Costello, Smith, and Staples will perform their own concerts in Cain's Ballroom. Steven Jenkins stated that Costello was asked by Steven Jenkins to program the jukebox, which will be displayed at the museum. Within a day, he submitted 160 Dylan songs and covers.

The Bob Dylan Center will be open to the public starting May 10.

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

He said, "To be truthful, I don't believe that's going to occur." He said, "I believe he is interested in the work that he does, not what he has done."

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