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New Gun Museum director 'revisits' history

By Ralph Peck Claremore Progress May 13, 2024
 

A picture shows a much younger version of Randy Ramer, looking through the exhibits at the J.M. Davis Arms and Historical Museum in Claremore, back in the 1980s.

 

Today, Ramer is again walking those same steps and seeing the same exhibits with fresh eyes as the new executive director of one of the nation's largest repositories of antique guns and national treasures.

 

“I have a picture of me from the 1980s here, in the J.M. Davis museum, one that shows me looking through the exhibits. It is a long ways from now, but brings us full circle," Ramer said.

 

The step back in time is self-explanatory, but the full circle Ramer references is the reason he was chosen to fill the post. The first 23 years of his work life were spent as a curator, director of exhibitions, and as an exhibition consultant with the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa. He knows about world of art and collections, travel and the business of the budget and how it all can make a person's life full and desperate at the same time.

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Randy Ramer has taken the lead at the J.M. Davis Arms and Historical Museum, Claremore, as the executive director. Ralph Peck | Progress photo

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“Museums are made by those who have an obsession, whether it is for particular things, or going about collecting things from particular people or finding those things that are right for the most people to look at,” Ramer said. “If I can maintain this institution, continue to work with some of the best people in the business and knowing the value in receiving their help and assistance, then possibly we can make the old be new again.
 
”Ramer also wants to know more about the man behind the gun museum, J.M. Davis himself. He wants to know more about the character and personality that drove a man to collect guns and other things in which he found value.
 
He is asking the public's help. He invites anyone who may have known Davis to visit or call. Ramer said he knows there are still a few people who met him when he was about 80 (1966) and may have had some interaction with him as the proprietor of the Mason Hotel, once on the northwest corner of Will Rogers Boulevard and Route 66.
 
Ramer said he knows his work with the Gilcrease collection and the museum operations gives him a different perspective than for past directors. it's a perspective he plans to put to good use.
 
“At the Gilcrease I worked for two different sets of people. Originally, I had come to the museum and worked as a graduate archeology student from the University of Tulsa,” Ramer said. "Then I took on each part of working in the museum that seemed like it took overnight, but came through the 25 years of employment.”
 
Ramer said the road to making it all work begins with listening and working with docents, art directors, exhibit directors, and others. In his past work, he traveled to South America to Europe, to domestic museums in search of artifacts and met with the people who held control of those goods.He is published author and contributing expert: "Forging a Nation: The American History Collection at Gilcrease Museum," "Perfectly American: The Art-Union and Its Artists," "Thomas Gilcrease," "Willard Stone" and "Charles Banks Wilson."
 
There's a quote by Thomas Gilcrease, benefactor of the Gilcrease Museum, “A man's got to leave some sort of track.” Ramer takes those words to heart. He understands the art of change, the techniques necessary for successful transition.
 
He was part of the staff when ownership of the Gilcrease Museum transferred to the city of Tulsa and was placed under stewardship of the University of Tulsa. He lived with those changes until his father called.
 
Ramer transitioned back into the family business in Enid, working with his father at Ramer Auto Parts, Car Sales and Salvage yard for the past 10 years.
 
People and history and the interest in preservation and sharing of those inherent stories continued to be part of his life's work. In Enid, he also worked for the Railroad Museum, and was the technology instructor at the James Crabtree Correction Facility at Helena, Oklahoma.
 
“Working at the correctional facility in Helena really transformed me. Here were guys that had reached a level in life that brought them to the point of being incarcerated in the state of Oklahoma,“ Ramer said, “What I brought them were simple ways to transform their lives and to have a working knowledge of how to plan, react, make good business decisions and to operate on their own. ... I learned as much or more from them and it really changed me.
 
”Working with his father also made a difference in his life.
 
“Watching and learning from my father, after I had become a father, was enough to expand my thoughts as a businessman,” Ramer said. "It was amazing the memory my father had. Everything was in ‘the’ place it was used from. Some of this seemed disjointed, but he knew everything, where it was, how he would handle it and what would happen.
 
”When his father died, Ramer saw the job opening in Claremore at the gun museum and decided to apply.
 
“In my first three days on the job, I can feel the invigoration from working with something new and can feel ways to bring J.M. Davis' collections to the forefront,” Ramer said.
 
Davis’ collections include 12,000 firearms, but also include graphic arts from the First World War, pottery and 19th Century artwork and a historical musical collection. He also collected artwork from the 20th century, as well as particular sculptures from the 1800s.
 
Ramer has two grown daughters. He is looking for a home in Claremore. He currently lives with a daughter in Tulsa.
 
He can be reached Tuesday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the museum or call 918-341-4707. The website is www.thegunmuseum.com.

What's New at the J.M. Davis Arms & Historical Museum

                         Miles Hall appointed Commissioner
                   to The J.M. Davis Arms & Historical Museum

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt has appointed Mr. Miles E. Hall, Shooting Industry advocate and business entrepreneur from Edmond as a board commissioner for the famed, J.M. Davis Arms and Historical Museum in Claremore Oklahoma.
“We are so incredibly excited that Miles agreed to take this position.” Stated Wayne McCombs Director of the museum. “His enthusiasm, knowledge and over 40 years leadership in the industry will help us greatly.” Wayne concluded.
In 1981, Hall and his wife Jayne were the founders of a multi-million-dollar Firearms Retail and 5 Star Rated Range in Oklahoma.  In the 36 years they ran the operation he led the company to virtually every award and honor in the retail arms industry. The Halls had an opportunity to venture into new areas of the shooting sports and chose to sell the business in 2016.
“I was incredibly honored to be asked” Miles Shared. “Looking forward to helping the other commissioners and team at the museum.” He concluded.  
Mr. Hall is recognized as an innovator and supporter of the thousands of front-line dealer/retailers in the shooting industry. Miles is a sought-out speaker and written numerous national articles for publications both inside the shooting sports and out and for many years helped retailers develop and grow their businesses all over the country.
Hall fills the unexpired term of the late Keith E. Ballard and his term will expire August 1, 2025. 

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We had some visitors today: The Marshals and Thunderbird Cadets.

May 21, 2021
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SEPTEMBER 7, 2019 | NOON

Tess Maune, News anchor and reporter for the News on 6 will be the guest marshal at the Tri-State Gunfighters High Noon Shoot Out this Saturday, September 7 at the J.M. Davis Arms and Historical Museum in downtown Claremore.

Lots of Old West fun as the gunfighters will have a street shoot out, bank robbery and jail break in the event.

Lil’ cowpokes will be deputized to help the good guys win the day. It is free and open to the public.

Starts at 12 noon.

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JULY 26-29, 2019

The J.M Davis Foundation Auction is going LIVE right now. Don't miss this 3-Day event! Come by the Museum or check it out

Celebrating the J.M. Davis Museum's 50th Anniversary with MoreClaremore.

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Lt. Governor Matt Pinnell receives a J. M. Davis Museum 50th anniversary Daisy BB gun and 50th anniversary book from Museum Director (center) Wayne McCombs and State Senator Marty Quinn.

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