Susie Jackson remembers visiting Gilcrease Museum for the first time on a field trip with her daughter’s elementary school class. “Having lived in Chicago, I was used to the Art Institute,” she says. “Gilcrease was something so completely different.”
Before long, Susie was captivated by the museum overlooking the Osage hills, and her husband, Bob, began to catch the fever. They became museum members and have been loyal and generous supporters for the past 30 years.
“Gilcrease is unique as museums go — the setting, the architecture, the collection, the story of Mr. Gilcrease,” Bob says. “What I like about the museum is that it’s not a collection of disparate art. It’s very specialized and focused.”
Susie joined the Gilcrease Board of Directors in 1991 and served as president of the board during the museum’s landmark Thomas Moran exhibition, which drew record crowds during its three-month run in 1998 and ranks at the top of Jackson’s favorites. “That was an exciting time to be a part of the museum,” says Susie.
As a member of the Gilcrease Museum National Advisory Board, Susie enjoys channeling her passion for art into new initiatives that continue to elevate the museum’s mission. During her time on the programs and exhibitions committee in 2014, she saw the successful launch of Gilcrease on Wheels, an educational outreach program that now reaches thousands of third-, fourth- and fifth-graders in rural areas across Oklahoma.
A love for art drives Susie’s passion for filling the couple’s home with a diverse collection of pieces including works by Leonard Wren and Carole Klein, who also served as associate curator of art for Gilcrease Museum.
The Jacksons not only champion the collection and programs of the museum, but also have affirmed their commitment through generous donations. They joined Gilcrease Council at the Leaders Level, supported The Anne Morand Endowment Fund to Conserve, Care for and Study the Collection at Gilcrease Museum and have purchased numerous pieces at the museum’s benefit art sales. The couple also has supported important programs at The University of Tulsa, including Public Radio Tulsa KWGS and the Gertrude Frank Skelly Society.
Following a major gift to establish the Susan B. and Robert W. Jackson Seminar Room in TU’s Helmerich Center for American Research, the Jacksons recently made a significant leadership contribution to the Campaign for Gilcrease. In keeping with their philanthropic values and interests in the arts and education, their endowment will support the museum’s operations, including curatorial staff, exhibitions, digital curation and education programs for children and adults. The Jacksons also are including Gilcrease in their estate plans; their planned gift eventually will add to the endowment.
“This upcoming physical expansion will allow Gilcrease to showcase its remarkable collection and tell the story of the Americas like never before,” says Susie. “We are excited to count ourselves among those committed to making this extraordinary vision a reality.”