Of all the memorials and museums we've visited, there may be none more moving, more well-crafted than the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum...
At 9:02am on April 19, 1995, a bomb exploded in downtown Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, claiming the lives of 168 husbands, wives, parents, and children. At 9:03am, a city, a nation, and a world began assembling to rescue those trapped in the rubble as well as capture the people responsible for the deplorable act of terror.
The Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum chronicles the events surrounding the Oklahoma City bombing, memorializes those we lost, and showcases the very best of the human spirit in the face of darkness and evil.
And… It’s simply one of the most touching memorials and museums we’ve ever visited.
Outdoor Symbolic Memorial
Spanning the original site of the Murrah Building, The Outdoor Symbolic Memorial is a beautiful tribute to all affected by the bombing. Anchored by the two large “Gates of Time,” and a long reflecting pool, the memorial is filled with symbolism from corner-to-corner.
Most noticeable is the Field of Empty Chairs. This sobering display represents every person lost in the bombing with smaller chairs representing children lost. It’s a moving experience to walk amongst the chairs, all arranged according to where the victim was located in the Murrah Building.
The symbolism carries over to the rest of the memorial through an astonishing number of subtle yet meaningful design aspects. National Park Rangers are onsite year-round, and we highly suggest asking them for information about the rich symbolism throughout the memorial.
You can also learn more about the memorial on their website or with this walking tour video:
Have you ever been to a museum where no one seemed to talk much? That’s what we experienced at the Oklahoma City National Museum. The museum seems to just command a reverence we can’t completely put into words.
Taking you through the morning before the bombing all the way to the eventual conviction of the bombing’s perpetrators, the museum takes you on a journey unlike any we’ve experienced at other museums.
There are parts that’ll make you cry like displays with stories of those lost along with personal effects recovered.
There are parts that’ll make you angry like the displays concerning the planning and ideology of the terrorists. (They even have the car McVeigh was driving when arrested as well as his shirt from that day.)
There are parts that’ll give you faith in our humanity like displays and videos of people from around the world coming together to support the people of Oklahoma City.
The curators of the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum managed to take the site of the darkest day in the city’s history and use it to shine a light that honors those lost in the bombing as well as the resilience of all those affected by the tragedy.
No little website article like this can fully express how exceptional this place truly is. If you’re traveling anywhere near Oklahoma City, it’s a must-see. Give yourself plenty of time to fully experience the memorial and museum, and if you’re staying overnight in OKC, return to see the Field of Chairs lit at night.
620 N. Harvey Ave.
Oklahoma City 73102