A museum, virtually

Opening tomorrow:

Retro Metro OKC is pending 501(c)(3) organization whose goal is to create an online exhibit of thousands of photos and documents relating to our city’s history, culture and heritage. The website debuts with more than 1,200 such materials, and thanks to a cooperative effort with the Oklahoma Historical Society and other area historical organizations, we hope to be adding many more historical Oklahoma City images in the near future.

Retro Metro OKC operates differently from other organizations in that we have no museum, we have no physical collections, and in most instances the materials we display remain in private ownership. In a typical situation our volunteer crews go to a home or business to scan an owner’s collection and the owner participates in the project by sharing information about the photos and documents as they are being scanned. The materials never have to leave an owner’s possession — the owner is simply asked to sign a release that allows for the materials to be displayed online.

The owner of such materials is given a disc of the digitized images and documents — and copies also will be given to the Oklahoma Historical Society and the Metropolitan Library System to ensure they will be preserved for future generations.

What’s the bane of the historian’s existence? Right: useful material forever locked away in someone’s vault. I have to figure the owners will happily share if they don’t actually have to give up physical possession.

Retro Metro OKC’s founding members include historians, authors, planners, a preservation architect, a retired Greater Oklahoma City Chamber executive, a city councilman, a city clerk, business owners, graphic designers and filmmakers. Our common history is Oklahoma City history. Our youngest member is 17; our oldest members are in their 70s.

Somewhere in the middle of that range is Oklahoman reporter and occasional dustbury.com reader Steve Lackmeyer, who is president of the new organization.

Nobody, not even Doug Loudenback or Pendleton Woods, knows everything about what’s happened in this town; I’m hoping the hive mind can fill in a lot of the blanks.


  1. Teresa »

    14 July 2010 · 8:36 pm

    Wow! What a very cool idea! I love the scanner thing and then getting the story without the photos ever having to leave the home! I would caution those doing the scanning… Scanners heat up. If there is lots of scanning to be done – it’s worth it not to try and cut corners by going faster. Otherwise – it will be most excellent. Let us know when there’s a link available.

  2. CGHill »

    14 July 2010 · 8:58 pm

    They do indeed, and I haven’t seen the Traveling Hardware yet, so I can’t tell you how they’ve addressed the matter.

    That said, RetroMetroOKC.org is live, with a little 30-second video opening for now. It is, of course, a work in progress.

  3. Steve Lackmeyer »

    14 July 2010 · 10:38 pm

    Teresa, we actually employ anywhere from two to four scanners for our remote sessions (depending on the amount of material). The next week or two ought to be a test of our group – we’ve had the benefit of picking and choosing our jobs up until now. With the group going public, I’ll be curious how many inquiries we field from folks wanting us to scan their photos and documents. (We have a committee and coordinator set up to ensure this remains an orderly process).

  4. Steve Lackmeyer »

    14 July 2010 · 10:40 pm

    P.S. “Occasional”? Try daily visitor.

  5. Doug Loudenback »

    15 July 2010 · 9:37 am

    I’m thrilled! This is already such a great adventure and there is so much more yet to come. I’ve hoped for this for quite a long time and now it has begun.

  6. Nicole »

    15 July 2010 · 12:29 pm

    Sounds like a fantastic idea!

  7. Teresa »

    15 July 2010 · 6:36 pm

    Great I have it bookmarked now. Have to go back later and look at it.

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