Brilliant Stories

Krannert Center: 50 Years of Arts & Entertainment

April 5, 2019

Access to the arts was a driving force behind the building of Krannert Center for the Performing Arts on the University of Illinois campus. Herman Krannert, a 1912 graduate of the university, and his wife Ellnora, believed that to experience the arts was “one of the most rewarding and enriching experiences people can enjoy—and, in these complex times, a most needed one.”

Laying the Groundwork

After years of planning, construction of the facility began in 1966 with another alumnus at the helm, Max Abramovitz, who had recently designed the State Farm Center (formerly Assembly Hall). Ellnora had a hand in much of the design features that continue to play a vital role in the facility, such as the sprawling central lobby where today, crowds gather before productions or for special events.

At the time of its opening in April of 1969, it was heralded by The New York Times as “one of the most ingeniously worked out art complexes anywhere”, and continues to be recognized as the nation’s premier university-based performing arts center.

From Then, To Now

50 years later, we’re celebrating the vision of the Krannert’s for this community, where arts & culture integrate seamlessly into our daily lives. Hundreds of thousands of patrons, from students to residents to visitors, have experienced a production in one of the six performance spaces—the acoustically-stunning Foellinger Great Hall, Tryon Festival Theatre, Colwell Playhouse, Studio Theatre, Stage 5, and the outdoor Amphitheatre.

The facility is home to performances by the academic departments of the School of Music, Illinois Theatre and Dance at Illinois, whose productions exemplify the quality of arts education at the University of Illinois. The Center’s Marquee visiting professional artistry programming allows for intimately and grandly scaled access to such groups as the San Francisco Symphony, Ballet Folklorico de Mexico, Itzhak Perlman, Mark Morris Dance Group, Savion Glover, a great selection of family-friendly shows, and much more.

Celebrating with amazing artists

For its 50th anniversary, Krannert Center will host an outstanding line-up of performances along with special events throughout the year to commemorate the occasion. In September 2019, ELLNORA | The Guitar Festival will return to delight patrons with some of the world’s leading guitar performers and also pay homage to the woman who made the facility an unparalleled destination.

This year is a time for friends old and new, near and far, to come together in reflection and revelry, celebrating all that has led to this moment in Krannert Center’s history.

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