A museum dedicated to Bob Dylan will open in Tulsa with performances by music legends. But Dylan himself? Questionable

The Bob Dylan Center in Tulsa opens May 10 with a concert series leading up to the event at Cain’s Ballroom, with an all-star musical lineup to mark the occasion. The museum dedicated to the elusive folk music superstar was announced in May 2021 with promises of curated exhibitions of material from the songwriter’s archive, offering unique insight into his process and the indelible mark that he left over music and popular culture.

The program kicked off Thursday evening with a private concert by Mavis Staples for the founding members of the Bob Dylan Center. Patti Smith and her band perform on Friday while British classic rocker Elvis Costello and The Imposters perform on Saturday night.

The museum also announced this week that it will include a space called the Church Studio Control Room, where visitors can mix a rotating selection of Dylan songs, such as “I Want You” and “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” and in learn more about classic tunes, including “Like a Rolling Stone.” And Dylan’s record label has sponsored the Columbia Records Gallery, which explores the cultural impact of his 60-year career, through songs like “Tangled Up in Blue,” “Chimes of Freedom,” “Jokerman” and ” Not Dark Yet”.

The cassette box from Bob Dylan’s fifth studio album bring it all home (1965).

There will also be a 16ft tall metal sculpture by Dylan at the entrance to the center, although he has not otherwise been involved in the project.

The Bob Dylan Center is operated by the Tulsa-based George Kaiser Family Foundation (GKFF), which acquired the Dylan Archive in 2016 under the American Song Archives. The foundation is also the origin of the nearby Woody Guthrie Center and funds the Tulsa Artist Fellowship. The Dylan Center building and facility was designed by Alan Maskin of the Olson Kundig Company, with exhibits including instruments, lyrics, notes, music and memorabilia.

Richard Avedon, Bob Dylan, folk singer, New York (1963).  Courtesy of Christie's Images, Ltd.

Richard Avedon, Bob Dylan, folk singer, New York (1963). Courtesy of Christie’s Images, Ltd.

While Dylan rose to fame through folk music and protest songs, his style evolved and changed over the years, which is famously ruffling the feathers of the folk scene when he embraced the electric guitar.

He is known for being private and elusive in the public eye, which was acknowledged in the Todd Haynes biopic. I am not here, in which the rock legend was played by a cast of actors, including Marcus Carl Franklin, Cate Blanchett, Richard Gere and Heath Ledger.

Ted Russell, Bob Dylan speaking to James Baldwin at the Emergency Civil Liberties Committee Bill of Rights Dinner.  Courtesy of Ted Russell/Polaris/Steven Kasher Gallery.

Photograph of Bob Dylan’s Ted Russell speaking to writer James Baldwin at the Civil Liberties Emergency Committee Bill of Rights Dinner. Courtesy of Ted Russell/Polaris/Steven Kasher Gallery.

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