Letter to the editor: Pioneer Woman Museum name change rumors

February 1, 2024 | Featured|Headlines

Editor’s note: The following is a letter to the editor submitted by Christina Rich-Splawn concerning the controversy that has developed over the possibility of The Pioneer Woman Museum changing its name.

kaynewscow.com reached out to the Pioneer Woman Museum today and was told that a public relations representative would be in contact and given the following statement issued by The Oklahoma Historical Society

As a part of a broader strategic initiative, the Oklahoma Historical Society has had internal conversations regarding the mission and branding of the Pioneer Woman Museum in Ponca City for the past year or so. While no final decisions have been made, any future changes will recognize the unique role the museum plays in the community and will seek to engage visitors in an enhanced manner. If any changes are made, the OHS will keep the public informed.

To watch KFOR-TV’s story on the topic click here. To watch FOX25News story on the topic click here

The following is Submitted by Christina Rich-Splawn | Ponca City

“It has come to my rather dismayed attention of an impending name change for the Pioneer Woman Museum. In current terminology, a change in “branding.” The brand now being considered is Oklahoma Women Museum. This change, updating, re-branding, whatever, has created a hue and cry in our community. 

To those whose battle cry is along the lines of “No! It is part of our history” etc., allow me to remind you about the very nature of history. History documents and charts the changes in our universe. Throughout the millennia, name changes have occurred. Pluto is no longer called a planet. Odysseus, originally Mycenaean Greek, is now referred to as Ulysses, a Roman name. Even old New York used to be New Amsterdam. The elegant white mansion on Grand Avenue in our fair city is now called Marland’s Grand Home, changed from the Cultural Center. (I know this because my beloved friend, the late Kathy Adams, had the intelligence to effect this change and I designed the logo.) Now notice, that even though the new names are used, history has kept a record of the previous names. So the name “Pioneer Woman Museum” will not disappear into the Swamp of Time.

There is another aspect to consider. Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher (circa 500 BCE. Oh no another change!!! We no longer use BC – Before Christ – we use BCE – Before Common Era), is quoted as saying “change is the only constant in life.” Those entities, organisms, beings, organizations, etc. that do not adapt to change, become extinct. History is rife with multitudinous extinctions, despite the popularity of “Jurassic Park.” We, as homo sapiens, experience change on a per second basis: Birth, childhood, teenage, young adult, senior citizen, end of life. Change, to some is frightening and occurs too rapidly. And, yes, I have said on occasion “I don’t want to change” – usually referring to my penchant for extravagant vintage outfits. However, fear of change leads to stagnation, which is decay and then extinction. Granted there are many things I personally wish were extinct, but my current magic wand lacks to power to accomplish such.

So what is changing for the museum? The name of a building. That is all. A building. Bricks, mortar, ceiling joists, etc. The exterior of the building has been changed twice in its existence, which we as a community celebrated. The revered statue is not changing nor being removed, as some on social media have shrieked. In fact, its name is “Confident,” not “The Pioneer Woman Statue.” The mission and purpose of the museum are not changing: Preserving the legacy of women from all races, creeds and nationalities who have made significant contributions to the history of Oklahoma. It “is dedicated to preserving women’s history and showcasing the historical and continued influence of women on the development of Oklahoma and the United States.” Nor is the motto “I See No Boundaries” which is prominent throughout the facility.The name change will broaden this mission. It will preserve and honor ALL women of Oklahoma who have contributed not only locally, but statewide, nationally and internationally. We have these women already; Sally Ride, Clara Luper, Anita Hill, Wilma Mankiller, the 99s, the Kan’za Nation War Mothers, just to name a few. So this museum will begin to accomplish that which is so long overdue! Recognizing ALL women of Oklahoma, regardless of hereditary, cultural background, age, physical capabilities, place in history, spiritual beliefs, being a Trekkie, shoe size, hair color, dislike of Blue Cheese, or addicted to Hallmark movies..

So how will this name change affect me personally? Well, it will not prevent me from: waking in the morning and brushing my pillow hair, finding my other shoe, buying groceries, enjoying a glass of wine in front of a bonfire, loving my husband, family and friends, or any other activity. And I am very sure it will not cause a gash in the fabric of Time and Space, unleash a Zombie Duck Apocalypse nor invoke the Wrath of Mordor. It will benefit me and our community by bringing more positive awareness to the Ponca City region and increase the tourism dollar, which greatly enhances our city and its coffers.

I have one final consideration for those of you who are preparing your torches and pitchforks. If you – yes I’m addressing you – have NOT in recent history, supported the museum with your volunteer time, served on the board or committee, organized an event there or promoted tours of the facility, OR have not donated funds, shopped at the lovely store therein nor taken your family to visit, then please, please . . . Shut. Up.”

Christina Rich-Splawn
Ponca City