The Bob Dylan Center is soon set to open to the public, celebrating one of the greatest figures in pop culture over the span of a 60-year-long career.

Museum creators have offered an immersive experience for both the casual visitors and for the truly fanatical fans of the American musician.
Museum creators have offered an immersive experience for both the casual visitors and for the truly fanatical fans of the American musician. (AP Archive)

The Bob Dylan Center, the museum and archive celebrating the Nobel laureate's work, will be opened this week in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The centre, set to open to the public on May 10, offers an immersive film experience, performance space, a studio where visitors can play producer and “mix” different elements of instrumentation in Dylan's songs and a curated tour where people can take a musical journey through the stages of his career.

The archive has more than 100,000 items, many accessed only by scholars through appointment.

It's certainly unusual for a living figure - Dylan is due to turn 81 on May 24 - to have a museum devoted to him, but such is the shadow he has cast over popular music since his emergence in the early 1960s. He's still working, performing onstage in a show devoted primarily to his most recent material.

Museum creators said they wanted to build an experience both for casual visitors who might not know much of Dylan's work and for the truly fanatical - the skimmers, the swimmers and the divers, said designer Alan Maskin of the firm Olson Kundig.

The museum hopes to celebrate the creative process in general and at opening will have an exhibit of the work of photographer Jerry Schatzberg, whose 1965 image of Dylan is emblazoned on the building's three-story facade.

Since Dylan's still creating, “we're going to continue to play catch-up” with him, Steven Jenkins, the centre's director, said.

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'One of the great musicians in the history of humankind'

Dylan was born and raised in Minnesota and came of musical age in New York and now lives in California. 

He recognised early that his work could have historical interest and value, Jenkins said. Together with his team, he put aside boxes full of artefacts, including photos, rare recordings and handwritten lyrics that show how his songs went through revisions and rewrites.

With the use of those lyrics, two of the early displays will focus on how the songs “Jokerman” and “Tangled Up in Blue” took shape - the latter with lyrics so elastic that Dylan was still changing verses after the song had been released.

Dylan sold his archive in 2016 to the Tulsa-based George Kaiser Family Foundation, which also operates the Woody Guthrie Center - a museum that celebrates one of Dylan's musical heroes and is only steps away from the new Dylan centre.

Dylan likes the Guthrie museum, and also appreciates Tulsa's rich holdings of Native American art, Jenkins said. Much of that is on display at another new facility, the Gilcrease Museum, which is also the world's largest holding of art of the American West.

“I think it's going to be a true tourist draw to Tulsa for all the right reasons,” said Tulsa Mayor G. T. Bynum. 

“This is one of the great musicians in the history of humankind and everyone who wants to study his career and see the evolution of his talent will be drawn to it.”

READ MORE: Bob Dylan announces first album of new music since 2012

Source: AP