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UW’s Centennial Complex to Celebrate 25th Anniversary Sept. 14

August 16, 2018
building being constructed
The University of Wyoming’s Centennial Complex opened to the public in September 1993, three years after the official groundbreaking ceremony in 1990. (UW Art Museum Photo)

The University of Wyoming Art Museum and American Heritage Center (AHC) will host a public open house to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their shared building, the Centennial Complex, Friday, Sept. 14, from 1-4 p.m.

With the theme of “Celebrating the Past, Looking Forward,” the open house will feature tours and highlights from AHC collections; spotlight tours in the UW Art Museum exhibitions and galleries; and include hands-on art-making activities and musical performances.

An invitation-only celebration for Centennial Complex donors from the past 25 years will be held from 6-8 p.m.

In 1986, UW launched the “Centennial Campaign,” the most ambitious fundraising campaign in the university’s history at the time. The campaign’s goal was to raise $19 million for a new building to house the AHC and UW Art Museum, as well as an additional $6 million to build endowments to support student scholarships and faculty positions. Until that time, the Wyoming Legislature had been the major source of funding for the university. This new initiative began a trend of substantial private contributions -- bolstered by matching state funds -- that kicked off a new era in growth around campus.

Architect Antoine Predock described his inspiration for the building as an “‘archival mountain’ … with a village, the art museum, at its base.” He wrote that he hoped to create “a sense of rendezvous, that timeless quality of meeting on an open landscape that we can trace from Native Americans to French trappers to Anglo settlers.”

The UW Art Museum’s programs are anchored on a comprehensive and growing collection of more than 8,000 objects and a diverse exhibition program that ranges from innovative artists of present time to art of the American West and art from other times and cultures. These original art resources form the basis for education and outreach programs that serve the state of Wyoming and enable academic and community engagement opportunities.

“Our theme, ‘Celebrating the Past, Looking Forward,’ compels us to consider our history and all that has been made possible over the years through the energy of generous donors,” says Marianne Eileen Wardle, director of the UW Art Museum. “We’re also thrilled to launch into a new era, continuing to pursue our mission of community and statewide engagement, and strengthening our relevance to the intellectual and social lives of students and faculty across disciplines at the university. The museum is a wonderful place to think and challenge our perceptions, no matter what we study.”

The mission of the AHC is to preserve primary sources and rare books reflecting the written, visual and audio history of Wyoming, the Rocky Mountain region and select aspects of the American past -- and to make those sources accessible to all. Its diverse collections support casual inquiry and international scholarship. The AHC plays an active and creative role in the teaching and research missions of the university.

“In step with the development of the university, mapped out in its strategic plan, ‘Breaking Through: 2017-2022,’ the AHC continues to develop a strategic plan with initiatives designed to see the AHC as a place increasingly aligned with the educational mission of the University of Wyoming,” says Ivan Gaetz, AHC acting director and dean of UW Libraries. “As the AHC maps passageways through the mountain and carves tunnels that lead to truly great discoveries of the objects contained therein, we can lead to profound discoveries by students and researchers of their own learning potentials. These are the truly spiritual dimensions of the whole edifice.”

For more information, call the UW Art Museum at (307) 766-6622, visit the website at, or follow the museum on Facebook and Instagram.

Through its “Museum as Classroom” approach, the UW Art Museum places art at the center of learning for all ages. Located in the Centennial Complex at 2111 Willett Drive in Laramie, the museum is open Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday hours are extended to 7 p.m. February through April and September through November. Admission is free.

Also in the Centennial Complex, the AHC is open for research Mondays from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. and Tuesdays through Fridays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. year-round. The AHC is closed for university holidays. For more information, visit the website at, call the AHC at (307) 766-4114, or follow the AHC on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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