Memorializing a Martyr
The Client: The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City found itself in the unprecedented position to build a shrine for Blessed Stanley Rother, the first American-born martyr in the Catholic Church. Blessed Stanley, born in Okarche, Oklahoma, was a priest killed in Guatemala’s civil war in 1981. He was serving as a missionary in Santiago Atitlán at the time of his death. The Shrine, now dedicated in his honor, includes a church, chapel, pilgrim center, museum, and expansive grounds nestled outside of Oklahoma City.
The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City began the enormous undertaking of creating the Shrine after Blessed Stanley was beatified in 2017. Before getting started, the Archdiocese approached the Oklahoma Museum Association for guidance on who they could trust to design and fabricate the museum space. At OMA’s suggestion, the Archdiocese began conversations with Exhibit Concepts, which has a long history of working in Oklahoma. Exhibit Concepts has partnered with the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, the Myriad Botanical Gardens, and Leonardo’s Children’s Museum, among others.
With the Blessed Stanley Rother Shrine being one of the first major museums for the Archdiocese, the Church needed a team of experts to help thoughtfully design and expertly fabricate the first-of-its-kind facility. So, outfitted with ideas and an abundance of artifacts from Blessed Stanley Rother’s life, the Archdiocese partnered with Exhibit Concepts to turn their dream into reality.
The Exhibit Concepts team took a comprehensive approach to the unique opportunity. Beginning with an interpretive plan, each artifact in the Archdiocese’s collection was researched and stakeholders worked to design the museum around Blessed Stanley’s life.
Following the interpretive planning process, Exhibit Concepts’ design team artfully curated a visitor experience that would not only educate visitors on Blessed Stanley’s life but immerse them in his story. The final design laid out every detail in the museum space from wall to wall and floor to ceiling.
The Exhibit Concepts team, working in collaboration with vendors, got to work quickly on the project. The final design called for a significant amount of fine carpentry, custom graphics, and custom fabrication. It took the Exhibit Concepts team just six months to fabricate the components of the space.
The final installation, in early 2023, culminated in a museum space that truly memorializes the life of a martyr. Today, the Blessed Stanley Rother Shrine sits in a prominent location outside the city. Passed by thousands of drivers daily, the Shrine’s large campus draws thousands of pilgrims and visitors every year. Attendees to the museum find themselves engrossed in Blessed Stanley’s story from his upbringing in Oklahoma, to his call to holiness, to his time in Guatemala, and to his final moments serving the Church.
Exhibit Concepts goes beyond the role of designer and fabricator and fully embodies what it means to be a partner on a project. From the first meetings to the final installation and beyond, Exhibit Concepts prides itself on understanding client needs and creating a truly impactful and meaningful experience.