The visual and performing arts provide fundamental components to the rich Middlebury experience, and students find themselves involved in one way or another—on the stage, in the studio, or among the audience.
Middlebury offers eight academic arts programs and majors: architectural studies, dance, film and media culture, history of art and architecture, museum studies, music, studio art, and theatre. And faculty members across the disciplines often find ways to incorporate the many arts activities, events, and facilities around campus and in town into their academic courses.
Mahaney Arts Center
The Kevin P. Mahaney ’84 Arts Center, known as the MAC, serves as a hub of arts activity on campus. Primarily it provides an environment for the creation of the performing arts and invites audiences to experience the work of local, national, and international artists. It’s also home to the black-box style Seeler Studio Theatre, the dance theatre, and the stunning 375-seat Olin C. Robison Concert Hall, as well as the academic departments for dance, music, theatre, art history, and museum studies.
Museum of Art
The Middlebury College Museum of Art, adjacent to the Mahaney Arts Center, is both a cultural and an educational component of the College, as well as a relaxing place to visit for a study break. Its collection of several thousand objects ranges from ancient to contemporary and includes distinguished collections of antiquities, Asian art, photography, 19th-century European and American painting and sculpture, and contemporary art. Special exhibitions, often curated in-house with students and faculty, are on display throughout the year. The museum regularly hosts lectures, gallery talks, films, school programs, and workshops. The museum and its programs are free to all.
Student Engagement at the Museum
Curatorial and education internships, receptionist positions, and the Museum Ambassadors Program (a yearlong docent training workshop) offer paid opportunities for experiential learning throughout the academic year. MuseumWorks, an integrated summer internship program, lets students explore careers in the arts while contributing valuable work to the museum. All Middlebury students are eligible for free museum membership, which includes a gift and invitations to a variety of special events designed by and for students.
Performing Arts Series
A College treasure now a century old and attended by the local community as well, this series of events throughout the year offers a diverse selection of performances and residencies by highly acclaimed and emerging artists in chamber music, jazz, world music, dance, and theater. Tickets are incredibly affordable, especially for students, presenting cultural opportunities not to be missed.
Christian A. Johnson Memorial Building
Situated in the center of campus, Johnson houses the architectural studies and studio art programs and contains numerous studios, a digital fabrication lab, and a specialized computer lab, as well as lecture and exhibition spaces for resident and guest artists and architects, and for students in both programs.
Wright Theatre, a classic proscenium theater designed by the esteemed American firm of McKim, Mead, and White, hosts performances of the Theatre Department and the Performing Arts Series, as well as many other events.
A major landmark on campus, Mead Chapel is also an important arts venue in which the College Choir and Collegium Ensemble present a broad repertory of sacred and secular music throughout the year. It also hosts lectures, Performing Arts Series concerts, and other major public events. The chapel houses an excellent Gress-Miles organ, and the tower features a 48-bell carillon that is played daily. The 35-year-old Summer Carillon Series brings to campus international performers whose concerts provide the soundtrack for campus life each summer.
Hirschfield Film Series
The highly popular Hirschfield Film Series brings a wide range of recent foreign and independent films to campus throughout the year. They are free and open to the public.
Art Around Campus
Middlebury has a distinguished collection of public art that includes nearly 30 works—mostly sculpture—by different artists, many of them nationally or internationally known. Each piece in the collection is installed, maintained, and interpreted by the Committee on Art in Public Places (CAPP), a committee that includes student representatives.
Henry Sheldon Museum
Founded in 1882, the Henry Sheldon Museum of Vermont History is housed in the Federal-style Judd-Harris House in downtown Middlebury. The museum contains a fine collection of art, furniture, and artifacts, presents a compelling exhibitions and events program, and has a great gift shop. The Stewart-Swift Research Center holds primary sources pertaining to the history of our community. Internships and other opportunities are available to Middlebury students during the academic year and summer.
Town Hall Theater
Located just a short walk away in downtown Middlebury, the Town Hall Theater brings great talent to a small community. Diverse offerings include plays and musicals with local community talent, concerts featuring nationally known musicians, and broadcasts from the National Theatre of Great Britain and the Metropolitan Opera. Ticket prices are reasonable, and the recently restored space is intimate, for a close-up opportunity to experience some great productions. The space is also home to many College events, including the annual winter term production of a major musical, student performances, and Language School students’ performances. The Jackson Gallery features work by local artists.
The Vermont Coffee Company Playhouse
Located on Exchange Street just north of the downtown, this theater venue presents cutting-edge performances generated either locally or brought from as far as Dublin, Ireland. The VCC Playhouse is a 70-seat “gray-box” theater with an industrial warehouse vibe befitting its setting. For more information, call 802-398-2776.
The Vermont Folklife Center
Also situated downtown, the Vermont Folklife Center is a nationally known education organization that uses ethnography—the study of cultural experience through interviewing, participation, and observation—to strengthen the understanding of the cultural and social fabric of Vermont’s diverse communities. The center presents exhibitions, lectures, and concerts, as well as internships for Middlebury students.
Marquis Theatre and Café
The historic two-screen Marquis Theatre is situated in the middle of downtown, opposite the Sheldon Museum and next door to the Ilsley Public Library. It presents independent, foreign, and documentary films; new releases; and pop-up one-day special screenings. A small café serves food and drinks.