The Seminole Nation Museum is housed in the former Wewoka Community Center, a native stone building built by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) during the New Deal era. Completed in 1937, the Wewoka Community Center is a unique feature to the Seminole County area. Its natural stone body and cedar gabled roofline set it apart from more elaborate and ornate structures found throughout the county. In fact, the only known structure of similar design is the old Lincoln Park Armory in Oklahoma City, which now serves as the home of the 45th Infantry Division Museum. The Armory, although much larger in scale, shares many design elements with its Wewoka cousin. Also like the Oklahoma City building, the Wewoka Community Center became a museum in the early 1970s as time necessitated change.
The Seminole Nation Museum opened in the fall of 1974 as the culmination of almost ten years planning and labor by the Wewoka community. Originally, the Museum was to be located in a two-story WPA building situated on the Seminole County Fair Grounds, but a fire decimated the building before it could be rehabbed into a museum. City leaders responded by offering the old Community Center to the Historical Society for refurbishing. The building had been vacated by the City in the early 1970s when a new Civic Center and City Hall had been constructed. The American Legion was the building’s only occupant, as they used it for their monthly meetings and occasional special events. An agreement was reached between the Seminole Nation Historical Society and the American Legion for the Museum to occupy the space, with the consideration that they would maintain a military exhibition honoring the men and women who selflessly served this country so that their work and sacrifice should not be forgotten (a tradition that continues today).
When the Museum opened in November of 1974, it contained approximately eighteen hundred square feet of exhibit space and a small office and gift shop. Today, it has grown to include almost four thousand square feet of display space, a research library, artifact storage areas, an expanded arts and crafts center and an art gallery that displays original works of art as well as hosts traveling exhibits throughout the year. The grounds have grown more than six-fold, now encompassing the entire 500 block of Wewoka Avenue, half of the city block to the east of the Museum and several lots to the west.
Since 2007, the Seminole Nation Museum has raised over $500,000 to improve the safety, accessibility, structure and appearance of the Museum building and grounds. We have installed new HVAC systems in the public spaces of the building and have built climate-controlled storage environments for our artifacts and collections. We have completely refurbished the building’s exterior and grounds. In 2011, work began on the Museum’s interior with a $40,000 renovation of the building’s gift shop, entry and public spaces. We have worked diligently with architects, conservators and contractors to develop a facility of which the people of Wewoka can be proud and to return the building to the unique architectural style as originally envisioned by the WPA in the 1930s.
Improvements to the Seminole Nation Museum's interior, exterior, and its grounds are funded by contributions to the Building Fund.