Inasmuch Foundation makes lead gift to renovate Crystal Bridge at Myriad Botanical Gardens

Inasmuch Foundation makes lead gift to renovate Crystal Bridge at Myriad Botanical Gardens

Larry Nichols, James R. Tolbert III, and Bob Ross with the Inasmuch Foundation

Inasmuch Foundation has committed $2.5 million to the second phase of a capital campaign to renovate the Crystal Bridge Conservatory at Myriad Botanical Gardens. This phase features a complete renovation of the interior conservatory spaces to enhance visitor engagement with a more diverse plant collection, interactive educational exhibits, improved ADA accessibility, and a museum-quality gift shop.

The announcement was made today. The Visitor Center lobby of the Crystal Bridge was renovated as part of the first phase of the capital campaign and completed in 2018, made possible by a major gift from Devon Energy. Phase one also included the renovation of lower-level classroom space for use by John Rex Middle School and a new horticulture classroom, funded by Inasmuch Foundation.

Opening day March 1988

Since its opening in 1988, (pictured above) the Crystal Bridge Conservatory has remained largely unchanged. As the centerpiece of the Gardens, it is home to thousands of tropical and desert plants within 13,000 square feet, divided into two distinct climates: wet and dry. To see the history timeline visit here.

The forthcoming renovation will update aging infrastructure, allow for a more diverse plant collection with both permanent and rotating exhibits, as well as new and enhanced water elements, circulation paths and sitting areas. A terrace feature will overlook the conservatory and add much-needed educational programming and venue space. Improved accessibility, including an elevator, will enable people of all ages and physical abilities to fully enjoy the space.

“The Crystal Bridge at Myriad Botanical Gardens is such a recognizable structure in downtown Oklahoma City,” said Bob Ross, chairman and CEO of Inasmuch Foundation. “Staff at the Gardens continually strive to create wonderful spaces and learning opportunities for Oklahoma City. When I learned of plans for reimagining the tropical plant conservatory to create a superb visitor experience, I knew Inasmuch Foundation would want to support this initiative. The second phase of the Crystal Bridge renovation capitalizes on the momentum of current downtown development.”

Maureen Heffernan, CEO of Myriad Gardens Foundation and Scissortail Park Foundation, said she appreciates the visionary leadership demonstrated by the Inasmuch Foundation and its major giving support.

“This gift enables Myriad Botanical Gardens to significantly improve our Conservatory experience so it is as transformational as the outdoor renovation was completed in 2011. An updated and more engaging Conservatory will help attract visitors from all of the major downtown development near the Gardens including Scissortail Park and the Convention Center and Omni Hotel. This investment will further strengthen the Gardens’ standing as one of the premier cultural attractions in Oklahoma City.”

Adds Jim Tolbert, Chair Emeritus of Myriad Gardens Foundation, “The interior of the Crystal Bridge has not been renewed since its opening. This visionary gift from Inasmuch Foundation will allow a vast enhancement of both its educational and visitor experience.”


The Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory opened to the public in 1988.


  • 13,000 square feet
  • 224 feet long
  • 70 feet wide
  • 3,028 double layer translucent panels

Two Climate Zones

  • Tropical Wet Zone
  • Tropical Dry Zone

Total Number of Plants

  • More than 1,000

Number of Plant Varieties

  • 650

Annual Number of Visitors

  • 70,000 to 90,000

Funders to Date

  • Inasmuch Foundation
  • *City of Oklahoma City
  • Gaylord Foundation
  • Kirkpatrick Family Fund
  • The Meinders Foundation

Design Team

  • Murase and Associates – Landscape Architects
  • ADG – Architects
  • Charles Sparks + Company – Retail Designer and Planner
  • Gecko Group – Education, Exhibit and Interpretative Consultants
  • Lingo Construction – Construction Manager


  • The Crystal Bridge Conservatory will close for renovation in spring 2021
  • A grand re-opening will take place in spring/summer 2022


Bringing Books to Life Festival Garners National Award

Bringing Books to Life Festival Garners National Award

Bringing Books to Life Festival Garners National Award

American Public Garden Association Recognizes Myriad Botanical Gardens for Program Excellence

The annual Bringing Books to Life festival at Myriad Botanical Gardens has earned a national Program of Excellence Award from the American Public Gardens Association. The award is given to an association member who has displayed an innovative spirit in the development of an original program and demonstrated leadership in public horticulture.

With one-time funding from the Junior League of Oklahoma City, Gardens President and CEO Maureen Heffernan launched Bringing Books to Life in 2013. Visitors to the annual festival have since stepped through a giant keyhole into The Secret Garden, taken a wild rumpus with Max and his merry monsters from Where the Wild Things Are, sat beside Piglet and Pooh in the Hundred Acre Wood, and enjoyed the bare necessities with Baloo, Mowgli, and friends from The Jungle Book.

“The national American Public Garden Association promotes and provides information resources for botanical gardens throughout North America,” Heffernan said. “We were thrilled to have our annual spring family festival, Bringing Books to Life, selected to receive their top award for program excellence.  Our staff and local artists work hard to make this annual festival as educationally engaging, creative and inspiring as possible to motivate children and their families to read books and plant a garden. Both have the power to gain insights and lessons for a lifetime.

“What a wonderful honor and recognition of our staff’s work and our donors’ support of this program, that their efforts are nationally recognized with this notable award.”  

Local painters, sculptors, and storytellers help transform the Children’s Garden the garden into a magical world based on a classic children’s book with a garden or horticultural theme. This festival has become an anticipated late spring tradition for thousands of families who look forward to walking through re-imagined garden spaces brought to life. Literacy components are woven throughout the festival with storytelling, scavenger hunts, hands-on activities, and other interactive educational opportunities as well as theatrical and musical performances based on the book.

Since the festival’s inception, the Gardens has partnered with Metropolitan Library System to promote literacy and summer reading at the festival via storytimes, library card sign-up and mobile circulation, the Oklahoma City Thunder whose players promote literacy throughout the community, as well as other area institutions, to reach a broad audience.

A variety of sponsors have ensured that Bringing Books to Life continues each year since the first grant from Junior League of Oklahoma City. They include Tinker Federal Credit Union, Devon Energy Corp., Express International Professionals, E.L. and Thelma Gaylord Foundation, Cox Communications, Jean and David McLaughlin, Goldfish Swim School, Kimray, Allied Arts, Hogan Taylor, Gail Beals, Kohls, OK Detrick Family Foundation, Midtown Vets, Paycom, BC Clark, and Okie Kids Playground.

The awards are presented at the APGA annual summer conference. Due to COVID-19, the conference was held virtually this year and the festival was canceled until spring 2021.