Museum and the Arts
Art is everywhere at Oberlin: in our acclaimed Allen Memorial Art Museum, throughout the conservatory and campus performance venues, in the vintage Apollo Theatre, in our student clubs, and maybe even in your room.
See a concert, dance to live music, watch a film, rent a painting, or try capoeira. With access to more than 500 events a year on one small campus, the cultural opportunities at Oberlin will shape your way of life.
Allen Memorial Art Museum
The Allen Memorial Art Museum (AMAM) comprises more than 15,000 works, and it consistently ranks among the top academic art museums in the nation. Featured artists include Chagall, Picasso, Monet, and others, plus a comprehensive collection of global art from Africa, Japan, and more. The museum’s resources, galleries, and its programs are free to all.
In addition, Oberlin professors bring classes to a print study room to view works from storage. Of course, with Oberlin’s celebrated Art Rental Program, you can live with an original work of art for an entire semester.
You’ll find the Hales Art Studio in the lower level Hales Gymnasium complex. Obies meet here for art instruction and studio work, and large-scale individual or group art assignments involving painting, drawing, installations, and performance. The art department hosts an end-of-semester show here, exhibiting student paintings, drawings, and sculptures.
Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1947, the Weltzheimer/Johnson House is one of a very few Usonian houses open to the public. Usonian refers to a group of about 50 Wright homes designed for middle-class Americans following World War II. These houses are modest, environmentally conscious, single-story dwellings. They embody Oberlin’s value of sustainability, built for passive solar heating and cooling, naturally lit clerestory windows, and radiant floor heating.
The arts thrive in other spaces, too. The Baron Gallery is a multiuse exhibition facility dedicated in 2010. Located adjacent to the Oberlin Alumni Association, it provides exhibition space and event opportunities for students, faculty, and local and international artists.
Art Rental is not a place but an opportunity to live with great art. For just $5 each, Obies can rent two original works of art each semester, usually an etching, photograph, poster, or lithograph. With works by such artists as Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso, and Red Grooms, the rental collection has something for everyone.
This renovated auditorium serves as a multipurpose gallery and lecture facility for the art department and musuem. Multimedia installations, artist lectures, performances, and the department’s capstone Senior Studio program exhibit take place here.
Oberlin’s campus is like a giant, multi-venue concert hall, with performances taking place nearly everywhere on campus. Grand spaces like Finney Chapel and Warner Concert Hall host the Cleveland Orchestra and Punch Brothers, and smaller spaces host everything from campus improv clubs and jazz ensembles to national touring acts.
Varied types of music, theater, and dance are available to experience as an audience member or performer. And with a piano in every residence hall and co-op, your performance might be at midnight after a night in the library.
With its signature 1950s-style marquee out front, Oberlin’s Apollo Theatre is synonymous with quality, family friendly movies shown at reasonable prices. The single-screen movie theater has shown old-school, reel-to-reel films to enthusiastic audiences since 1913.
The renovated theater, located downtown at 19 E. College St., has a 411-seat single-screen main theater and a 61-seat screening room on the ground level, an indoor ticket center, an expanded concession area, a new sound system and digital projector. It also sports a media education center with editing labs, an animation area, a recording studio and a small projection screening room. Students can create movies and other media and share it with the community in the theater.
Famed for its acoustics and beauty, Finney Chapel stands at the heart of Oberlin's intellectual and musical life. Architect Cass Gilbert’s Romanesque arches and oak pews give the place a grand majesty, while a monumental C.B. Fisk pipe organ lends a genuinely soulful feel.
This 1,200-seat sanctuary hosts prominent speakers and acclaimed musicians, but that accounts for only about a dozen of the nearly 200 events on this stage each year, including the monthly Organ Pump and performances by the Oberlin Orchestra and Oberlin Jazz Ensemble.
The distinctive, wave-like façade of the 501-seat Sophronia Brooks Hall Auditorium is where large-scale theater productions, dance performances, and two Opera Theater programs take place each year.
Buy tickets to major campus events in the Central Ticket Services box office in the lobby.
Kander Theater is a new performance space that replaces the Little Theater, part of a larger renovation project to support and enhance Oberlin’s Department of Theater. The new space has a seating capacity of 75, making it an ideal venue for smaller scale, intimate, and experimental productions presented by theater faculty, students, and theater-based student organizations.
William and Helen Birenbaum Innovation and Performance Space is the most recent event space. This club-like venue in the lower level of the Hotel at Oberlin accommodates more than 100 guests.
By day the Birenbaum serves as a teaching space; by night it features conservatory performances and special events.
This underground hotspot features touring artists and Oberlin student bands representing a variety of styles, including indie, hip-hop, jazz, and genres yet to be named, as well as Oberlin students who form top-notch musical combos or take up residence in the DJ booth.
Located on the ground floor of Wilder Hall, the ’Sco has an impressive selection of beers on tap, as well as darts, billiards, and foosball.
The vibe at Oberlin’s performing arts coffeehouse changes with the wildly varied programs that take place here, from singer-songwriters to slam poetry showcases, and from improv to late-night blues.
The Cat also is known for its giant cookies—baked by the student workers who run the place—and its weekly Jazz Forums at noon on Fridays.
Tucked into the modernistic Betram and Judith Kohl Building, the conservatory’s exemplary recording studio is the site of recitals, lectures, and multimedia presentations by students, faculty, and guests.
David H. Stull Recital Hall, named for the alumnus and fomer dean of the conservatory, is a bright and flexible 1,300 square-foot performance space on the top floor of the conservatory’s signature building, Bibbins Hall.
Affectionately known as “The Penthouse,” Stull Hall hosts master classes, recitals, and other music events for up to 120 guests.
The stone-walled space of Fairchild Chapel lends itself to quiet meditation, spiritual gatherings, and early music and a cappella arrangements for small audiences. This 150-seat chapel is located in Bosworth Hall,
With seating for 144, Kulas is ideal for chamber music performances.
Originally built as a gymnasium in 1901, Warner Center is home to Oberlin’s theater and dance departments. The large Victorian-style gym, Warner Main, serves as a classroom, dance studio, and versatile 250-seat performance space.
Student, guest, and faculty recitals and recording sessions take place in this 645-seat hall that features a 44-stop Flentrop organ with 3,400 pipes.
Student Clubs & Organizations
Here, art isn’t just for music and performance majors. Whether you’re considering contra dance or seeking fellow horror movie fans, you’ll find—or form—a group of like-minded Obies.
Whether you’re an aerialist or a radio DJ, we’ve got more than 175 active student-run clubs, many of them arts related, including swing dance, the Oberlin Film Series, at least four a cappella groups, improv groups, and WOBC-FM, the student-run radio station.