Built in 1994, The Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center is a premier educational and public arts facility designed to house the Department of Music and the Department of Art and Design of the University of Indianapolis. Funding for the facility was donated by philanthropist Christel DeHaan, then chair of the university’s board of trustees. Located at the entrance of the University Of Indianapolis campus at the corner of Hanna Avenue and Shelby Street, university leadership envisions the Center as a strategic investment to bring world-class performing arts to the school and welcome the citizens of Indianapolis to the campus.

Sign welcoming visitors to the Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center on the University of Indianapolis campus, ca. 2020
Credit: Visit Indy

The Music Department includes rehearsal halls filled with pianos, music studios featuring sound-reduction and percussion equipment, and a fully furnished studio with both digital and vintage sound equipment. The Art and Design Department includes studios and a lecture hall. Young artists develop their craft and perform in the same building alongside their more accomplished peers. The Fine Arts Center hosts over 100 performances each semester.

Designed by Indianapolis-based Ratio Architects, the Center received an American Institute of Architects Indiana Design Award. In all, the structure is home to the two-tiered Ruth Lilly Performance Hall, a superior art gallery, practice rooms, art studios, classrooms, and a lecture hall featuring sophisticated technology. The facility’s red brick and limestone exterior match the existing university buildings providing continuity with the existing environment. As patrons enter the facility they are greeted by a two-story sloped and curved window wall wrapping the lobby to create an expressive modern space.

Musicians perform on the stage for an audience in the Ruth Lilly Performance Hall, ca. 2019
Credit: Visit Indy

The 500-seat Ruth Lilly Performance Hall stands at the center of the arts complex. The Viennese-style hall boasts features in the fashion of the great concert halls of Europe and rivals any performance hall of its size in the country. Attention to granular details guarantees an unparalleled acoustic experience. To maximize the acoustic performance, craftsmen carefully accounted for the density of the seat cushions, the thickness of the stage curtains, and the 28-inch-thick hand-plastered walls. Sound is equally distributed in the hall regardless of whether five patrons or 500 are seated. Even a whisper made in one spot can be heard in any other location within the hall.

More than a thousand artists and performers have performed in the Ruth Lilly Performance Hall over the last 20 years. Some of the more renowned performances have included the Indianapolis Quartet, American Pianists Association competitors and winners, the Emerson Quartet, and the London Chamber Orchestra to name but a few. A wide range of concerts and lectures are free and open to the public.

Interior of the Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center, ca. 2020
Credit: Visit Indy

The Fine Arts Gallery, located adjacent to the performance hall, features the work of major local and regional artists. The high ceiling, spacious wall, and abundant natural light make the gallery ideal for displaying a wide variety of two- and three-dimensional work. New exhibits are presented on a 30-day rotation.

Revised March 2021
 

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