Last updated: 6/22/2022
Lawton, Oklahoma
Street Address
601 NW Ferris Ave
Lawton, OK 73507
Mailing Address
601 NW Ferris Ave
Lawton, OK 73507
phone: 580-581-3460
Monday - Saturday10 AM - 5 PM
Sunday1 PM - 5 PM
Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year's Day
SNAP discount with verification | Group rates by prior arrangement.
Adults (13-62): $10
Seniors (62 or older): $9
Military (with ID): $9
Children (3-12): $8
Children under 2: Free
Museum Type(s)
Gift Shop
Special Event Rental
Bart Mcclenny, Director
phone: 580-581-3460 x101
Kevin Lawrence, Assistant Director
phone: 580-581-3460 x104
Mary Owensby, Executive Assistant
phone: 580-581-3460 x102
Jim Whiteley, Registrar
phone: 580-581-3460 x106
Taylor Larson, Special Collections Curator
phone: 580-581-3460 x122
Ian Swart, Living History Interpreter
phone: 580-581-3460 x109
Trevor Williams, Educator
phone: 580-581-3460 x108

The Museum of the Great Plains Authority exists both as a municipal trust and a 501(c)(3). The City of Lawton directly appoints 3 of our 13 board members, and approves the trust's recommendation of the remaining 10.


The Museum of the Great Plains collects, preserves, interprets, and exhibits historical material relevant to the Great Plains of North America, fostering research into the region in order to increase knowledge of its history and to make information available to scholars and the public.


The Museum of the Great Plains started with the formation of the Comanche County Historical Society, on December 12, 1952. A grant from The McMahon Foundation in 1958 enabled the organization to begin construction of the museum in the municipally-owned Elmer Thomas Park, adjacent to the McMahon Memorial Auditorium. The Museum of the Great Plains officially opened in 1961.

The Comanche County Historical Society expanded its purpose and mission, transitioning to the Great Plains Historical Association (1961) and finally the Institute of the Great Plains (1970). The Association began publishing the Great Plains Journal in 1961, which continued until 2014. In 1972, the Museum of the Great Plains became the first facility in Oklahoma to receive accreditation from the American Association of Museums. In 1997, through a $2.5 million grant from The McMahon Foundation, the Museum of the Great Plains added 25,000 square feet of gallery space, a new foyer, and a new store. The same areas in the old building became offices, workrooms, a classroom, and research space, and permitted the expansion of collections storage, the library, and archives. The Institute of the Great Plains and the City of Lawton jointly operated the facility until January 1998, when the museum reorganized as a municipal trust. Today, the Museum of the Great Plains Authority serves as the governing board. Although a trust of the City of Lawton, the Authority also operates as a 501(c)(3).

In 2003 the Museum of the Great Plains became the first partner, along with Science Museum Oklahoma, in the Oklahoma Museum Network (OMN). This event marked the beginning of the Museum of the Great Plains' association with the Donald W Reynolds Foundation, the grantor behind OMN. The Museum of the Great Plains received a $4.2 million grant from the Reynolds Foundation in 2012. Over the next three years, working with Science Museum of Minnesota, the Museum of the Great Plains remodeled the entire main gallery, and separately the adjacent public areas. Today, the Museum of the Great Plains offers traditional exhibit presentation coupled with innovative discovery-based learning activities, as it continues its mission to “Explore the human history of the Great Plains.”


There is an auditorium that shows a rotating selection of informational episodes



501 (c)(3) as a Municipal Trust with a Board of Trustees.



The museum is in the process of repairing the mobile shelving unit that holds archival material and the photo collection. A significant portion of the photos and archival materials have been moved to a separate location in the building, but are not accessible for retrieval at this time. For this reason, access to the physical archives will be postponed until further notice.

Repairs will begin this month (May 2022) and archival material will be returned to the shelving unit after the project is finished. We will provide updates as the project progresses and we thank you for your patience during this time.

Access: General Public, Students, Scholars

Appointment required: Yes


Wheelchair Accessible




The Louise D. McMahon Hall is available to rent for birthdays, bar mitzvahs, receptions, classes, and more. The capacity is 100 people.

The gift store probably has things you're not going to find anywhere else is town. Come have a look!!

Gift Shop

Special Event Rental

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