OKLAHOMA CITY -- One of Oklahoma City's most unique museums is leaving our state, and you probably never even knew it was here.
The International Photography Hall of Fame, whose collection represents over 500 artists and several thousand photographs, has made the decision to leave Oklahoma City for St. Louis, Missouri.
The original Photography Hall of Fame opened in 1977 at the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, California. It moved to Oklahoma City in 1983 as the IPHF and opened its doors in the new Kirkpatrick Center.
The Kirkpatrick Center became the Omniplex, and eventually Science Museum Oklahoma. But name changes haven't been the only ones over the last 25 years.
The IPHF has struggled for years to develop any sort of real presence in Oklahoma City. John Nagel, IPHF President, claims that the location that might have seemed ideal 25 years ago just hasn't worked.
"We thought that the location of the Omniplex was not to our benefit, we could have no exterior signage," said Nagel. "So the people don't know we're there."
Travis Marak, who works at the IPHF agrees.
"There have been days when nobody comes in," said Marak. "There have been days when y'know on the weekends, Sunday, there will be nobody."
And without foot traffic, or a percentage of Science Museum Oklahoma's admissions, the IPHF is forced to rely solely on memberships and donations.
"We find ourselves struggling to make ends meet, and to carry out our mission," said Nagel. "So we looked for other options."
One option, of course, was staying in Oklahoma City. According to Nagel, that option was and still is being explored. However, the current economic conditions haven't been friendly.
"Nothing has really materialized that would allow us to move in and move our collection there," Nagel said. "So we looked for something nationally."
The move is set to happen by September of 2010. But there's a slight possibility that some of the IPHF collection could be staying in the Sooner state.
"We like Oklahoma City very much," said Nagel. "We think that if we had a good location, our collection is large enough that we could have a satellite in Oklahoma City, with the major collection in St. Louis.
THE INTERNATIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY HALL OF FAME IS LOCATED INSIDE SCIENCE MUSEUM OKLAHOMA. ADMISSION TO THE IPHF IS INCLUDED IN SCIENCE MUSEUM OKLAHOMA'S ADMISSION. CONTACT THE IPHF AT (405) 424-4055 for more information.