The Helmerich Research Center supports the Gilcrease Museum, which houses the largest collection of Western American art in the United States. The museum also is home to 18 of the 22 bronzes created by Frederic Remington and a significant collection of American Indian art and artifacts. Included among the works of art are nearly 100,000 rare books, documents, maps and unpublished works. The adjacent archival center allows researchers to access the rare documents housed in the building.
The museum envisioned an open, airy space that would take full advantage of the scenic surroundings. The exterior stone work of the building was influenced by Native American construction techniques of the southwest.
Because the documents housed at the research center are so delicate and rare, creating a safe environment was critical. Researchers are able to review the documents in the Reading Room, which is an environmentally and visually controlled area. Building materials and finishes were selected to ensure the utmost fire protection, to allow for maximum control over humidity and temperature and to eliminate off-gassing that could be harmful to the documents. Additionally, the documents are stored in a hardened, concrete shell to protect from tornadoes and other severe weather.
The documents are transported from the museum to the research center through a secured connector, which doubles as a private gallery to select audiences. The connector was inspired by the Vasari Corridor in Florence, Italy.
Across the hall from the Reading Room is the Great Hall, a multipurpose area used for fund raising events, conferences, short-term gallery display and more. The exterior is clad in floor-to-ceiling electrochromic glass, which automatically tints when the sun comes out to block harmful ultraviolet light while maintaining the stunning views of the Osage Hills. Visitors are able to enjoy the documents while the priceless pieces are protected from sun damage.