Today, Good Friday, we commemorate the 41st anniversary of an event known as “Terrible Tuesday,” when on April 10, 1979, an F4 tornado swept through the Southwest portion of Wichita Falls. The Wichita Falls Museum of Art experienced damage that day. What became important in our community in the days after the tornado was that we were safe.
WFMA staff members share memories of this day and the similarity to our current COVID-19 experience.
“Many lives were altered in those few minutes. Places we visited were destroyed or closed due to damage, and people we knew lost their lives or the lives of family members. I was a sophomore in High School and was unable to even visit others in areas that were damaged. It was a learning experience about how much we take for granted.” Connie Nolen, Administrative Assistant
“When I was 9 years old, some of my family members were injured on Terrible Tuesday. Not knowing which hospital they went to, how our family split into groups to go to the two different hospitals that Wichita Falls had at the time, to wait outside of the ER to hear their names. I remember the feelings of fear and uncertainty we had that day; feelings that many Americans are experiencing today with their families because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our community unified to recover from the tornado and we will also come together to recover from our current crisis.” Danny Bills, Curator of Exhibitions and Collections
Like many, the Museum had to rebuild, with the generous support of our neighbors and patrons. Today we continue to serve the cultural life of our region. As our quarantine lifts in the coming months, the WFMA at MSU Texas will be here, with you and for you, to bring the healing power of art into our lives as we rebuild once again.
The top photograph was taken by A.C. Martinez in 1979, showing damage to the museum building; the bottom image is a snapshot of the same view today. Visit our online exhibition to see more images from “Terrible Tuesday” by Wichita Falls native Frank Gohlke in his portfolio titled “Aftermath.” A nationally acclaimed photographer, Gohlke’s photographs show us the healing inherent in time.