Oklahoma Route 66 Museum Celebrates 25th Anniversary

When the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton officially opened on September 23, 1995, it was the first facility in the nation dedicated to the history and culture of Route 66, the most famous historic highway in the world. It is the largest museum from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California, dedicated to the history and culture of Route 66.

With over 930,000 visitors in 25 years, the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum has captivated the attention of people from around the world. Since the grand opening celebration held on September 23, 1995, the museum has proven to be a must-see for travelers— both Route 66ers and everyday vacationers.   

In 2007, the accomplishments of the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum played a large role in Clinton hosting the  International Festival Route 66 Festival, which brought over 20,000 people to Clinton. The success of the 2007 festival also led to the transformation of the community’s annual Hot Dog Daze into Clinton’s Route 66 Festival.

In 2012, after 17 years, the museum completed a full renovation of all exhibit galleries, bringing the facility into the 21st Century. This achievement was celebrated with a special grand opening ceremony on May 26, 1012.

The museum has hosted a plethora of special events which attract Route 66ers from around the globe.  Beginning in 1996, the museum has held Route 66 anniversary celebrations every five years. These celebrations have featured premiere Route 66 historian Michael Wallis, as well as special exhibits by other Route 66 artists and authors such as the late Bob Waldmire, Shellee Graham, Jim Ross, Jerry McClanahan, Kathy Anderson and many more.

Also, the Oklahoma Route 66 Association inducts special Oklahomans into the Oklahoma Route 66 Hall of Fame.  Inductions are held every two years for individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the promotion and/or preservation of Route 66. The selection includes a nomination and committee process conducted by the association. The winners’ plaques are displayed in the Hall of Fame, which is located in the museum’s WOW! Room.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the cancelation of this year’s festivities, please help the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum celebrate this milestone anniversary by visiting sometime during the year.

The museum’s galleries are designed to offer visitors a personal journey through the history of the nation’s most revered highway.  Encounter the iconic ideas, images and myths of the Mother Road. Learn about the dreams and labor needed to make the road a reality. Experience the dust bowl as thousands streamed along the road, away from drought and despair and towards the “land of promise.”  Listen to the sounds of the Big Band Era, when the roar of the big trucks and the “Welcome home!” cries to returning soldiers dominated the road. Touch the counter and sit in the booth of the 1950’s diner and feel the open road as America’s families vacationed along the length of Route 66.  The museum also offers changing special exhibits, focusing on the Route 66 experience in our new Now and Future Gallery. And don’t forget to step into our gift shop for some Route 66 Memorabilia!!

While personal hygiene has always been important, the museum has introduced new safety procedures. Staff members ensure all areas are clean and sanitized. In accordance with Oklahoma State Department of Health guidelines, all visitors, staff, volunteers, contractors and vendors are required to wear face masks in public areas of the Oklahoma Historical Society museums, sites and affiliates, including the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum.

The Oklahoma Route 66 Museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and is closed Sunday and Monday. The museum is located at 2229 W. Gary Blvd. in Clinton, OK. Regular admission is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors, $4 for children, and ages 5 and under are free.  For further information, please contact Pat Smith at telephone (580) 323-7866 or via email patsm@okhistory.org.

The Oklahoma Route 66 Museum is a division of the Oklahoma Historical Society. The mission of the Oklahoma Historical Society is to collect, preserve, and share the history and culture of the state of Oklahoma and its people. Founded in 1893 by members of the Territorial Press Association, the OHS maintains museums, historic sites and affiliates across the state.  Through its research archives, exhibits, educational programs and publications the OHS chronicles the rich history of Oklahoma. For more information about OHS, please visit www.okhistory.org.