Celebrate our 97th birthday with us!

The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts has an extensive history since its insurrection 97 years ago. Known as the Art House in 1920s, the KIA had several homes before finding its permanent residence at 314 S. Park Street. We invite you to view some of the KIA’s milestones, and a collection of art through the last nine decades.

Our gift to you!

Celebrate our 97th birthday with us all month long

As our gift to you, the KIA is offering Sunday admission in July for only 97¢ when you pre-book your ticket online.

97 years of excellence

1924: The creation of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts

Local chapter of the American Federation of Arts incorporates at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts at YMCA on Rose Street with programs and classes at other venues.

1929: Establishing the Art House

A cooperative arrangement between the Kalamazoo Board of Education resulted in the Institute establishing galleries and offering classes in a building known as the Art House.

1930: The KIA moves to the Kauffer House

The KIA, then located at 347 South Rose Street, shared its new home with the public museum and library art department.

1931: Art classes begin

The Art Center hired its first full-time director and began offering art classes to both children and adults.

1933: Membership reaches 250

The KIA rapidly began working to establish its own identity in the community. This was largely through the work of Blanch Hull, who served as president of the KIA board from 1930-36.

1934: KIA welcomes its first lecture speaker

The KIA initiated its annual lecture series with Diego Rivera as the first speaker.

1947: KIA moves to its first permanent home

The Institute moved from its leased temporary home to its first owned home, a Victorian at 421 West South Street.

1949: Formation of the art school

Kirk Newman joins the KIA as part of the University of Michigan Extension Service.

1958: Moved to temporary housing during construction

The Art Center continued to operate during construction on its new building. It moved temporarily into the former Methodist Church at 509 Jasper Street, courtesy of the Upjohn Company.

1964: Walt Disney visits the KIA

Walt Disney (right) visited the KIA in 1964. He is pictured with former Executive Director Alfred Maurice, who served as director 1959–65.

1973: First Holiday Art Sale

The first sale called “Pottery Sale” was held in December. It showcased student and faculty art, while also creating significant funding for the school.

1994-95: Board of Directors launch the Power of Art capital campaign

With gallery attendance increasing to 60,000 visitors, the Board launched the campaign with a goal of raising $12.5 million in order to expand the facility.

1996-97: Renovation/expansion project begins

Boston-based firm Ann Beha & Associates was selected as architects for the project. Staff moved to the KIAnnex at 458 West South Street during construction.

2005: Dale Chihuly breaks records

Chihuly’s glass exhibition breaks attendance records, with the artist visiting Kalamazoo in support of the show.

2006: Art School named the Kirk Newman Art School

Kirk Newman served as Director of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts’ School from 1949 to 1978. He originally designed the sculptures of Kalamazoo children at Bronson Park to commemorate the United States bicentennial in 1976. He passed away Nov. 4, 2017.

2014: Current executive director joins the team

Executive Director Belinda Tate joins the KIA on Sept. 8, after a national search.

2019: Black Refractions

In 2019, the KIA hosted the touring exhibition “Black Refractions: Highlights from The Studio Museum in Harlem” and solo shows by contemporary artists Orna Ben-Ami, Inka Essenhigh, Maya Freelon, and Sungyhun Moon

2020: KIA shifts to virtual

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts pivoted to online exhibitions and programs, and the Kirk Newman Art School hosted virtual art classes for students.

2021: Kirk Newman Art School collaborates with KVCC

Students at Kalamazoo Valley Community College started using the Kirk Newman Art School’s professionally equipped ceramic studio by attending two classes per week at the KIA. The partnership began February 2021 with the KVCC winter semester classes held at the School.
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From the Director

We believe that art is for everyone. It transforms, inspires, and fulfills. We bring the world of art to life through a world-class collection, engaging temporary exhibitions, a wide range of youth learning opportunities, and excellent arts instruction in the Kirk Newman Art School.

For 97 years, the KIA has been educating and enlightening the community through the arts.

Your support makes a difference, especially this year, to provide a place of healing and rejuvenation.

Executive Director Belinda Tate

Art through the decades

1928

Hale Aspacio Woodruff, Untitled (Fishing Boats in a Normandy Port), ca. 1928, oil on linen canvas Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Donald S. Gilmore by exchange.

1931

Viktor Schreckengost, Egyptian Blue Jazz Bowl with Flared Rim, 1931, glazed earthenware with engobe, sgraffito design. Purchase made possible by Ronda Stryker and William Johnston.

1948

Mary Abbott, Portrait of Elaine de Kooning, 1948, oil on canvas. Jim Bridenstine Acquisition Fund purchase.

1958

Richard Pousette-Dart, By the Sea, 1958 oil on canvas. Gift of Pfizer Inc.

1967

Robert Gwathmey, Peace, 1967, oil on canvas. Purchase: Acquired through the generosity of an anonymous donor.

1975

1987

Lamidi Olonade Fakeye, Untitled (Mother of Twins), 1987, mahogany wood. Gift of David Curl.

1992

Marcia Wood, Gaia, 1992, brass. Gift of David Curl.

2002

Marilyn Johnson, Stuart Avenue, 2002, oil on canvas. Elisabeth Claire Lahti Fund purchase.

2016

Hung Liu, Lady Lotus, 2016, mixed media on panel. Joy Light East Asian Art Acquisition and Exhibition Fund purchase.

2020

Jeff Sonhouse, Conceived In A Seamstress’ Garden, 2020, acrylic on canvas, collage, metal wire on canvas. David and Muriel Gregg Fund purchase.