15th Anniversary Of OKC National Memorial Museum Reveals New Items

Friday, February 19th 2016, 5:56 pm
By: News 9

The Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum is commemorating a milestone. Exactly 15 years ago, the museum opened its doors for the very first time to tell the story of the Murrah Building bombing.

The museum opened nine months after the memorial and has added a lot to its collection in the last 15 years. It currently has more than 600,000 documents, artifacts and photographs telling the journey that started April 19, 1995.

“Fifteen years ago today, it was a different museum, a different place,” said Kari Watkins, Executive Director of the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum.

President George W. Bush opened the museum February 19, 2001.

“It was kind of a pivotal turning point for our city and we opened the museum to tell the story that then would interact the outdoor symbolic memorial, so these two are meant to go hand in hand,” Watkins told News 9.

When it opened, the trials were still wrapping up so the museum later added evidence, the trial outcomes and Timothy McVeigh's execution.

The most notable additions are the axle of the Ryder truck, 850 interactive oral histories of anyone who was involved, and personal artifacts from family members.

“The artifacts are probably the most meaningful thing in the museum because you begin to understand the human side of this terrorism,” Watkins explained. 

“They were not faceless Americans, but they were all mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters,” she added.

The glass outdoor overlook is new, too. It was in the original design years ago, but was dropped to meet the $10 million budget.

In 2015, the museum has to open the side of the building to get McVeigh's car inside the museum, so they made the overlook a reality.

“Today is a whole different story, a more in depth story,” Watkins said.

The museum is constantly adding to its collection.

This week, a rescuer from Virginia who helped in the building search twenty years ago called the museum and said they wanted to donate their rescue equipment.

To commemorate the 15th anniversary of the museum opening, people are sharing their memories using the hashtag, #OKCNMMeans2Me.