2019 marks the 100th birthday of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, the Colorado College-owned museum only a few steps off campus. Founded as the Broadmoor Art Academy in 1919, the FAC has been an integral part of the culture and community of Colorado Springs since its creation. Erin Hannan, the museum’s director, described the centennial as “a time for us to honor our history, our past, and our legacy, to celebrate the present and what’s happening here right now, and to look forward to a vision and a plan for the next hundred years.”
In the years following its inception, the Broadmoor Art Academy was Julie Penrose’s home for artists who had moved to Colorado Springs for the area’s beautiful landscapes, Southwestern aesthetic, and temperate climate. “We were founded as a multidisciplinary art academy,” Hannan said. “Visual art, music, and theatrical performances” were all part of the academy.
When Alice Bemis Taylor needed a larger space for her growing personal art collection, Penrose donated her home to the cause which was replaced by the building that houses the FAC today. The FAC still puts on educational programs as well as performing arts productions, but now functions mainly as a museum with a large collection of permanent and rotating art.
Looking forward, the FAC is planning to spend its 100th year presenting exhibits and interactive events to both celebrate the past and think about the future from a new perspective. “We’re now 100 years into the future, and society has changed in many ways,” Hannan said. “What are some of the interesting stories and perspectives that we can apply now about what history looked like then?”
The official kickoff for the centennial celebration will take place on Saturday, Jan. 26, with a public open house and free all-day admission to the museum which will have a special focus on the anniversary. As an homage to the Broadmoor Art Academy’s original theater traditions, there will be one-act play readings in the galleries, “much the way that the academy players did during the Broadmoor Art Academy days, and they’ll actually be performing the first play [to be shown here], ‘Suppressed Desires,’” Hannan said. In addition to the plays, the FAC will set up interactive art exhibits for families “where they can try their hands at different kinds of art making.”
It also plans on a “legacy series of exhibitions throughout the year that are reflecting on and looking at new perspectives related to our history with the Broadmoor Academy.” In addition to the kickoff, the FAC will have another formal birthday party in October for the public and the college community. “We have programming all year long,” Hannan said. She and Amanda Weston, the FAC’s media relations and outreach manager, are especially excited about an upcoming fashion show titled “Sashay” and its accompanying exhibit, featuring wearable art from New Zealand.
As far as other programming throughout the year, Weston added that there will be play readings on select Museum Free Days in the galleries, along with workshops at the Bemis School of Art on painting and printmaking. “They’re kind of classes and workshops that you would’ve seen back in the heyday of the Broadmoor Art Academy,” she said. “We’re kind of reinventing those and bringing them back new twists.”l