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Fine Arts Center: a Multidisciplinary Gem

Colorado Springs has a rich history.

Established in 1871 strictly as a destination, it was too picturesque for General William Jackson Palmer to pass up. During a time where cities were generally settled around a water source, or at least a place rich in natural resources, Colorado Springs was different. Set apart.

The Antlers Hotel was erected facing Pikes Peak, framing it as the main feature of the city. Visitors would ride in on the train and get a view of the “Wild West” while dining, sleeping and enjoying the latest comforts of the era. Soon enough, the dry mountain air and sunshine became a draw for those suffering with tuberculosis or other ailments. Its beauty and purity were said to have healing powers.

Katharine Lee Bates was so inspired by Pikes Peak that she penned the famous song “America the Beautiful” that still endures today.

It’s easy to see how the area inspires all kinds of art.

Arts District

In 1919, Julie Penrose founded the Broadmoor Art Academy (BAA) on the corner of Cascade Avenue and Dale Street, giving art inspiration a literal foundation in Colorado Springs. In the 1930’s two local philanthropists and art collectors joined her to build upon the original idea. Alice Bemis Taylor and Elizabeth Sage Hare teamed up with Penrose to further develop the facilities by concepting an expansion that would ultimately function as an entire arts district under one roof.

They were certainly ahead of their time, as the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center (FAC) is still only one of a few multi-discipline art institutions in the nation. 

The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, as it was re-imagined and re-branded in the 1930’s, still functioned as an art school, but now also incorporated performing arts as well as an art museum. 

Funded by Alice Bemis Taylor, renowned southwest architect of the time John Gaw Meem was commissioned to design the building that incorporated Pueblo Revival structure and Native American Iconography into a modern Art Deco style. To date, the building design has won multiple architectural awards and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.  

Elizabeth Sage Hare served on the Fine Arts Center’s Board of Trustees as the first president. She also was tasked with recruiting teachers and exhibits from around the globe to be featured in the art museum. The museum was so well renowned that during World War II, it actually became a repository for several famous pieces. Fearing air raids would target and destroy these treasures, multiple pieces were transferred from large museums and collections to the Fine Arts Center for safe keeping. It was said to have housed works by Pablo Picasso, Paul Cezanne, Honore Daumier, and Francisco Goya.


Today, the Bemis School of Art has a robust course catalog featuring drawing, ceramics, glass art, film, photography and more for all ages. The Fine Arts Theatre Company is critically acclaimed and offers professional theatre training as well as an exciting schedule of events for all ages. The Museum rotates through exhibitions regularly to provide locals the opportunity to experience art from around the world. They also have curated collections unique to the museum, to include the tactile gallery for guests to experience art with more than just one of their senses. Most recently the Fine Arts Center has provided an online museum experience with their eMuseum collection. This reduces even more barriers to sharing this inspiring art with the community.

For more than 100 years, art has flourished in Colorado Springs with the Fine Arts Center serving as a strong foundation fostering inspiration of art in all mediums for generations to come.

Facebook: @CSFineArtsCenter
Instagram: @fineartscenter


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