How to Visit ahha Tulsa for a Powerful Immersive Art Experience!

THE EXPERIENCE. Art by Daniel Sutliff, photo by John Bivens.
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If you love visiting art museums that stretch your creative muscles, then you need to start planning to visit ahha Tulsa, an Immersive Art museum where you can both appreciate forward-thinking art as well as create some of your own!

In our effort to highlight all of the best museums in Oklahoma, we spoke with Lauren Teague Collins, the Director of Communications at ahha Tulsa, to share what makes this museum special, why you should visit, and what you need to know before you go.

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Visit ahha Tulsa an Immersive Art Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Everything You Need to Know to Plan Your Visit to ahha Tulsa

Here’s what you need to know before you visit!

Where is the museum located?

Exterior of ahha Tulsa. Photo credit John Bivens.
Exterior of ahha Tulsa. Photo credit John Bivens.

ahha Tulsa is located at 101 East Archer Street, Tulsa, OK 74103

What topics does the museum cover? 

Ahha Tulsa is an arts center that investigates creativity in many forms. Our mission is to keep Tulsa creative, but that includes out of town visitors!

On any given day, visitors can learn about art by living artists in THE GALLERY, a contemporary gallery setting with interactive interpretation. On the second floor, visitors can explore immersive art in THE EXPERIENCE, a large-scale, fully-immersive wonderland that delights all ages.

On the third floor, visitors can create a masterpiece in THE STUDIO, ahha’s hands-on maker space. There’s something for everyone in THE STUDIO, regardless of age or skill level.

What is your museum’s claim to fame? 

The King's Mouth, an interactive sculpture by The Flaming Lips currently in the lobby. Courtesy ahha Tulsa.
The King’s Mouth, an interactive sculpture by The Flaming Lips currently in the lobby. Courtesy ahha Tulsa.

Ahha believes that everyone is creative, and we like to lead the charge with dreaming big. At our facility, we do our best to inspire everyone who comes in the door, and we embrace all things weird and unexpected!

Have we driven a custom-painted lowrider into the gallery during an exhibition about Mexican-American culture? Check. Partnered with rock legends The Flaming Lips to host an interactive sculpture people can crawl into? Check. Worked with incredibly talented local artists to dream and build Tulsa’s first large-scale immersive installation…including a “laboratory” made of chewed gum? Check. Check. Check.

What is your favorite exhibit or artifact in the museum? 

Boys playing with 'Bowling Ball Pianos' in THE EXPERIENCE. Art by David Reed James, courtesy ahha Tulsa.
Boys playing with ‘Bowling Ball Pianos’ in THE EXPERIENCE. Art by David Reed James, courtesy ahha Tulsa.

We host roughly six large exhibitions in THE GALLERY per year, and we don’t have a permanent collection. So, while I have certainly had favorite exhibitions, it’s hard to name just one!

I’d say our standout exhibition has been THE EXPERIENCE, because it takes over an entire floor of the building. Some people who visit are familiar with immersive art, but many are not.

When I give tours, I see wonder light up the faces of my groups. Their body language changes. Giving people permission to let go of preconceived notions of art by showing them something they haven’t seen before is a great way to open their minds to all sorts of creativity in their lives.

The first iteration of THE EXPERIENCE ran from June 2018-December 2019. Since then, we have been installing a brand-new version, THE EXPERIENCE: IMAGINE, designed by a new cohort of 6 lead artists and originally set to open in late May 2020.

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Note: Of course, this timeline has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time of writing, we have not announced a new opening date for the installation.

What kinds of special exhibits and events do you host throughout the year? 

A girl on 'Horse Rocket' in THE EXPERIENCE. Art by Laurie Keeley, courtesy ahha Tulsa.
A girl on ‘Horse Rocket’ in THE EXPERIENCE. Art by Laurie Keeley, courtesy ahha Tulsa.

Note: Everything described in the “topics” question can be experienced throughout the year, but note the dates of THE EXPERIENCE are up in the air due to COVID-19.

Our exhibitions in THE GALLERY change every other month, so there’s always something new to see. These exhibitions range from local artist cohorts to nationally exhibited artists.

We also have a small Community Gallery space on our third floor, where we host small shows by our partners that speak to the advocacy side of our mission. Most recently, we partnered with the nonprofit Poetic Justice to host art by women inmates at the Mabel Basset Correctional Facility.

One of our main mission goals is to enhance and share arts education. One of the ways we do this is through art classes and camps, which range in topics and disciplines, and are available for many age groups.

In the facility, the third floor is a true maker space. We have a surface design studio focused on printmaking, a metals studio where you might find a silversmithing class, and a fully-stocked photography darkroom, complimented with a digital media lab for more modern editing and large-format printing.

These facilities allow us to offer classes such as black and white photography to the public. We also host seasonal events during regular public hours, such as Halloween-themed activities during October.

The best way to learn about these events is to follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter @ahhaTulsa.

Are there guided tours available? What topics do they cover, how does someone sign up, and what languages are they held in? 

THE EXPERIENCE. Art by JP Morrison Lans, courtesy ahha Tulsa.
THE EXPERIENCE. Art by JP Morrison Lans, courtesy ahha Tulsa.

Yes, guided tours are available. Tours cover the offerings at the time the tour takes place; typically we will cover the current exhibition in THE GALLERY, plus THE EXPERIENCE and a short introduction to the hands-on capabilities in THE STUDIO.

Our tour capacity is usually 10–30 people per tour. Each visitor is required to pay admission upon entry (K–12 schools, college/university groups accompanied by a Professor, and qualifying nonprofits are FREE with a confirmed tour reservation).

We also offer optional hands-on activities with each tour. We have several free options listed in our tour booking form, along with several activities that require a minimal supply cost.

Tour sign-ups are here. At this time, tours are held in English only. However, we encourage anyone with language needs to contact us within the group reservation form so we may help as much as possible.

How much time should someone plan to spend at the museum? 

THE STUDIO. Courtesy ahha Tulsa.
THE STUDIO. Courtesy ahha Tulsa.

Visit lengths vary! A typical patron will spend roughly 1 to 2 hours if they visit THE GALLERY, THE EXPERIENCE, and THE STUDIO.

Some intrepid creatives of all ages will spend multiple hours in THE STUDIO perfecting their projects. We invite you to stay as long as you like during public hours.

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What should someone bring with them and what items are not allowed in the museum?

Bring yourself. If you plan to explore THE EXPERIENCE, we recommend comfortable shoes. We do not allow outside food or drink or weapons.

Is photography allowed inside (without flash)? 

Yes. Photography is allowed as long as it does not impede the enjoyment of other guests. We encourage guests to tag us in their social media posts.

How can one purchase tickets and how much do they cost? Can guests use credit cards? 

THE STUDIO. Courtesy ahha Tulsa.
THE STUDIO. Courtesy ahha Tulsa.

Tickets may be purchased online or at the door. All major credit cards are accepted.

General Admission

Adults $12.75

Child (3-12) $8.75

Under 3- Free

Members – Free

First Fridays (after 5:00 PM): Discounted $10 admission for Adults (13+). Kids and Members are free!

Online tickets are available here.

Does the museum have a bag check or coat room? 

We do not offer bag/coat check at this time.

What should parents of young children know before visiting the museum? What is there for kids to do? 

THE GALLERY. Courtesy ahha Tulsa.
THE GALLERY. Courtesy ahha Tulsa.

Ahha is a great place for kids. There are many opportunities for creative play with young children and toddlers.

Families have enjoyed playing and creating with manipulative toys in THE STUDIO and experimenting with drawing, painting, and torn paper collage.

While THE EXPERIENCE is fun for many kids including young children, a few have found the unusual lights and sounds a bit scary. Most kids love it!

Is the museum accessible? 

Note: We have a robust accessibility statement on our website. I’m including some of the major points below.

Physical Access: Most places in the ahha Tulsa Hardesty Center are accessible to visitors using walkers, canes, and wheelchairs. Portions of THE EXPERIENCE that require stooping down, crawling, or climbing are not wheelchair accessible.

Accessible parking is available along Boston Avenue near the Flyloft building, just south of M.B. Brady Street. Please note that street parking is metered from Monday–Friday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Accessible restrooms are available on each floor of the Hardesty Center. A family restroom is available on the second floor.

A public elevator is available to transport guests to each floor of the Hardesty Center.

Lights and Sound: THE EXPERIENCE, an immersive, hands-on art installation, includes bright flashing lights, strobe lights, quickly moving projected animations, and loud sounds. Many portions of THE EXPERIENCE are dark.

S.P.A.R.K. Explorer Packs: At ahha, we welcome and celebrate our visitors who are neurodiverse. Two Sensory Processing and Autism Resource Kits (S.P.A.R.K.) are available at the front desk for free checkout. Each specially designed backpack includes a wiggle seat, noise-reducing headphones, fidget key chains, a bright fan spray bottle, a visor, sunglasses, and a weighted lap pad.

Families with Children: Strollers and baby carriers are allowed in all areas of the Hardesty Center.

Baby changing stations are available in each restroom.

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Private spaces for nursing mothers are available on the second floor of the Hardesty Center.

Groups with Special Needs: We are dedicated to working to accommodate all visitors with special needs and provide the best possible experience. If you are visiting with a group that requires special accommodations, contact us at hello@ahhatulsa.org.

Service Animals: Ahha Tulsa abides by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and allows service animals, that is, animals trained to perform specific tasks for an individual with a disability, into all the public areas of the Hardesty Center.

What’s the coolest item for sale in the gift shop? 

All of it! With a mix of local art and a curated section of our favorite “gifty” items, our gift shop is a must-stop for each visitor. Our number one bestseller? Stickers!

What’s the tastiest thing for sale in the cafe or snack stand? 

We currently don’t have food and beverage. But that will be changing in the near future!

What are your normal days and hours of operation? 

Monday and Tuesday Closed to public

Wednesday 12:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Thursday 12:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Friday 12:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Saturday 12:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Sunday 12:00 pm – 7:00 pm

What should teachers planning a field trip know before reaching out to you? 

'The Gum Lab' in THE EXPERIENCE. Art by David Reed James, courtesy ahha Tulsa.
‘The Gum Lab’ in THE EXPERIENCE. Art by David Reed James, courtesy ahha Tulsa.

We work with many local school districts! K-12 schools, college/university groups accompanied by a professor, and qualified nonprofits will receive free admission with a confirmed tour reservation.

We recommend submitting tour requests as far out from the date as you can (our calendar fills up quickly). Depending on the size of your class, please plan a little extra time (1-3 hours) for your visit, and groups larger than 20 will be split into two smaller groups.

Your group will have a designated tour facilitator, but chaperones are highly suggested.

We also offer optional hands-on activities with each tour. We have several free options listed in our tour booking form, along with several activities that require a minimal supply cost.

What else should a visitor know before visiting? 

THE GALLERY has exhibitions that normally last about 6 weeks, with time added on for installation and deinstallation. This means that it is sometimes closed to the public. We recommend following us on social media and checking our website for “currently showing” information.

THE EXPERIENCE is an entire floor of the 40,000 square foot building devoted to immersive art. That means you exit the elevator or stairs into a new world. You might feel like you have stepped beyond the looking glass into strange lights, sounds, or tunnels. It can get a little weird! This space is meant to open minds and bring joy.

THE STUDIO isn’t just a room with art supplies. Our professional arts educators have infused a teaching philosophy throughout the entire space. We believe everyone is creative. Leave your preconceived notions at the door and come play with us.

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Visit ahha Tulsa an Immersive Art Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma

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