A Home of its Own
In 1947, the KIA purchased and renovated a building of its own, an old home at 421 West South (see photo on this page), but it was quickly filled to capacity and planning began for a permanent building at 314 S. Park Street, which was constructed with the generosity of Genevieve and Donald S. Gilmore and the Upjohn Estate through the Kalamazoo Foundation. The modern design by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill included studio classrooms, a library, auditorium, exhibit areas, art storage, a sculpture garden and office space. The building opened in September 1961 with a staff of 15.
In 1997, the KIA began a $14.5 million dollar expansion and renovation project designed by the Boston architectural firm of Ann Beha Associates. Re-opening in September 1998, the addition includes more permanent collection galleries, a Community Cultural Center Auditorium, a centrally located library, an interactive gallery, and both new and completely renovated classrooms. The new two-story lobby and atrium showcases a glass chandelier by Dale Chihuly and a mobile by Alexander Calder.
Collection and Outreach
KIA offers art classes, exhibits, tours, films, lectures, concerts, and outreach programs. It has a fine permanent collection emphasizing 20th century American art and the German Expressionists. About ten percent of the items in the collection were donated by local philanthropists Donald and Genevieve Gilmore. The remainder have been purchased or received as gifts from KIA members and friends. Each year the KIA acquires additional works by nationally known and established regional artists.
On the first Saturday in June each year, the KIA sponsors its well-known Kalamazoo Art Fair in Bronson Park. Begun in 1951 as the Clothesline Art Fair for local artists, it evolved into an international juried show. Artists from all over the United States and Canada exhibit and sell their works here. The Art Fair attracts thousands of people each year for the one-day event.