Woody Guthrie Center – Tulsa, Oklahoma - Atlas Obscura

Woody Guthrie Center

A museum packed with instruments, lyrics, and other mementos of the American folk icon. 


It’s hard to pass by this otherwise seemingly ordinary brick building without catching your eye on the enormous mural covering part of a wall. Painted underneath the lyrics of one of the most famous American folk songs, an image of an equally iconic musician strums a guitar bearing his signature inflammatory message. 

The center is dedicated to Woody Guthrie, the celebrated American singer who penned hundreds of folk and political tunes. A fiercely dedicated social activist, he frequently played with the saying “this guitar kills fascists” boldly stuck onto his guitar.

Stroll through this museum and you’ll find Guthrie’s old instruments, papers covered in his thoughts and lyrics—including his original lyrics to “This Land is Your Land”—and a trove of other musical treasures. All these artifacts help tell the story of the social and political themes Guthrie so passionately wove into his work.

The building also houses the Woody Guthrie Archives, the world’s largest collection of material related to the artist. Though this area isn’t open to the general public, windows within the main museum let people take a peek into the room. More lyrics, manuscripts, books, musical recordings, and more fill the special climate-controlled space.

The center also houses the Phil Ochs archives. The singer’s daughter donated them in 2014, as her father had been influenced by Guthrie’s social activism.

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May 11, 2018

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