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Original Exhibition Trade & Transformation Set to Open October 18 

Yinka Shonibare CBE (British-Nigerian, b. 1962). Bling Painting, 2013. Acrylic on Dutch wax printed cotton textile, toys adorned with colored diamantes, and metallic gold emulsion, 98 3/8 × 244 1/8 × 2 3/4″. Tia Collection, Santa Fe, NM. ©️ Yinka Shonibare CBE. All Rights Reserved, DACS/ ARS, NY 2023

TULSA, OK., September 12, 2023— Every object holds a story. And people have the power to transform their perspectives through encountering objects. The original Philbrook special exhibition Trade & Transformation examines the intersections of contemporary artwork by global artists and historical objects across the Philbrook collections. Tracing the stories held within these objects, the exhibition is an opportunity to explore cross-cultural and trans-continental relationships, experiences, intentions, and implications.

Trade & Transformation runs October 18–December 30, 2023.

When objects are traded across the world, their stories change and the people who interact with them change as well. An example of this change can be seen in historic trade routes. One of the longest and most important routes of trade in history, The Silk Road spanned between East Asia, Europe, and Africa via land and sea from approximately 130 BCE to 1453 CE. Those who traversed this route exchanged precious stones and metals, silk and wool, tools, religious objects, perfumes, food, spices, and more. The Silk Road was one of many that fostered eras of revolutionary trade, but most importantly, it ushered in new perspectives.

“Our entire material culture has been influenced by trade, extending to the art we see in museums,” says the exhibition’s curator, Kalyn Fay Barnoski, Assistant Curator of Native Art. “From historical objects, like the beaded Otoe Faw Faw Coat or the gold silk Japanese screens we hold in our collection, to contemporary works such as Nick Cave’s Soundsuit or Yeesookyung’s Translated Vase, we can see the effects and interconnected nature of exchange.”

Focusing on artworks by thirteen international contemporary artists drawn from the Museum’s collection, important new acquisitions, and key loans, Trade & Transformation presents these contemporary artworks alongside groupings of historical African, Asian, and Native American objects. Presented in the Museum’s Helmerich Gallery, the exhibition extends into the historic Villa through select paintings, sculptures, and textiles.

“This original and thought-provoking exhibition highlights the exciting depth and diversity of our permanent collection and its ability to catalyze important community conversations,” says Philbrook CEO/President Scott Stulen. “Trade & Transformation also debuts several new acquisitions and reframes familiar works to make unexpected connections and elevate under-represented voices.”

The aim of this exhibition is simple yet profound; when connections are found, perspectives are transformed.

Presenting support for Trade & Transformation is provided by the Susannah and Jim Adelson Family Foundation. Support for all Philbrook exhibitions is provided by The Mervin Bovaird Foundation, the George Kaiser Family Foundation, and additional Exhibition Series Sponsors.


Press/Image Contact:

Jeff Martin, Director of Communications
918.697.9042 (m)
918.748.5300 (o)

About Philbrook Museum of Art

Philbrook Museum of Art is committed to being Tulsa’s most welcoming and engaging cultural institution, providing a unique trifecta of experiences: a historic home, world class art museum, 25 acres of gardens. 

Philbrook Museum of Art opened on October 25, 1939. The addition of a 70,000 square foot wing in 1990 turned the historic home into a modern museum complex. A major garden renovation in 2004 cemented the Museum’s reputation as “the most beautiful place in Oklahoma.” 

Through bold action and strategic investment, we create a space for new ideas, diverse stories and perspectives, and social connection. The Philbrook Collection features more than 16,000 objects with a focus on American, Native American, and European art. Serving over 160,000 visitors annually, Philbrook shines a light on Tulsa’s storied and complex past while building a diverse and creative vision of the city’s future.