Engaging the Arts and Creativity

Interest in the arts and creativity booming at Stanford


The Art and Art History Department will be consolidated and its offerings enhanced by allowing evolving art forms like film and electronic media to be studied and created alongside traditional work, thanks to a new building announced in 2008.

The building is one example of a campus-wide increase in interest in the arts and in integrating creativity into every field of study.

Alumnus and former Board of Trustees Chair Burt McMurtry and his wife, Deedee, gave $30 million for construction of a new facility adjacent to the Cantor Arts Center that will consolidate the widely dispersed art department. Student interest in studio art courses has outpaced space, and the
new building will provide much-needed new studios and classrooms. It also will spur multidisciplinary research and teaching, as well as collaboration with the Cantor Arts Center.

“Great sparks happen when people come together in one place. As the arts flourish at Stanford, I think they will ignite all kinds of exciting collaborations and conversations,” says Kristine Samuelson, chair of the Department of Art and Art History.

The new art building constitutes part of an envisioned arts corridor that also includes a concert hall made possible by Peter and Helen Bing. The 900-seat concert hall will be constructed near Frost Amphitheater and is being designed to the latest technical and acoustical standards.

Enhanced facilities are key to the Arts Initiative, which helps foster a culture of creativity on campus. Also key is the Stanford Institute for Creativity and the Arts (SICA), which develops undergraduate art programs, hosts artists in residence and encourages multidisciplinary research and teaching.

SICA was also supported in 2008 by alumni and parents George Hume and Board of Trustees Chair Leslie Parker Hume. They created five graduate fellowships in the arts and humanities and supported new arts courses, visiting artists and opportunities for undergraduates to attend off-campus performances and exhibits.

Among the most visible signs of increased interest in the arts on campus is the Off The Farm grants program, which exposes students to Bay Area culture and inspires a deeper appreciation for the arts. During the academic year, nearly 1,500 students attended such offerings as “Appomattox” at the San Francisco Opera, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Ore., and the LINES Ballet at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.