Katzen Arts Center

The Cyrus and Myrtle Katzen Arts Center is home to all of the visual and performing arts programs at American University and the American University Museum It is located at Ward Circle, the intersection of Nebraska Avenue and Massachusetts Avenues in Washington, D.C. This 130,000-square-foot (12,000 m2) space, designed to foster interdisciplinary collaboration in the arts, provides instructional, exhibition, and performance space for all the arts disciplines. Its 30,000-square-foot (3,000 m2) art museum exhibits contemporary art from the nation's capital region and the world. The museum gallery is the Washington region’s largest university facility for art exhibition.[1]

Katzen Arts Center
Katzen Arts Center.jpg
4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW
, , ,
United States

The Center houses many academic departments for the university, including Art History, Graphic Design, Studio Art, Arts Management, Dance, Music, and Theatre. The center also features a 30,000-square-foot (3,000 m2) museum; a 6,000-square-foot (600 m2) sculpture garden; a 211,000-square-foot (19,600 m2) parking garage; 33,000 square feet (3,100 m2) of performing arts space; 37,000 square feet (3,400 m2) of studio space including theatre studios, a music ensemble room, art studios, and dance studios; an admissions welcome center; and the Abramson Family Recital Hall.[2]

The construction of the Center was made possible by Dr. Cyrus and Mrs. Myrtle Katzen, who house much of their modern art collection within the building.[3]

American University MuseumEdit

The American University Museum is a three-story, 30,000-square-foot (3,000 m2) museum and sculpture garden located within the university’s Katzen Arts Center. As the region’s largest university facility for exhibiting art, the museum’s permanent collection highlights the holdings of the Katzen and Watkins collection. Rotating exhibitions emphasize regional, national, and international contemporary art.

Much of Dr. Cyrus and Mrs. Myrtle Katzen's modern art collection is showcased in the museum, which includes over 300 pieces by artists such as Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Willem de Kooning, and Roy Lichtenstein. The museum also includes art by Jean Dubuffet, Red Grooms, Amedeo Modigliani, Larry Rivers, Frank Stella and Andy Warhol.[3]

The museum is also home for the Alper Initiative for Washington Art, which "is dedicated to preserving, presenting, and creating the art history of Washington through our book collection, database, events, and exhibitions."[4] As part of the initiative, the museum hosts up to five new exhibitions of Greater Washington area artists each year.[4]

Notable exhibitionsEdit

Since its opening, the museum has generally staged multiple exhibitions each year, often hosting one separate exhibition in each floor. Among the most important recent exhibitions, was the first ever American exhibition of contemporary North Korean art,[5] which was held concurrently with an exhibition of art by notable immigrant Greater Washington area artists,[5] including Ric Garcia, Joan Belmar, F. Lennox Campello, Muriel Hasbun, Juan Downey, and others.[5][6][7][8] Other important artists showcased by the museum over the years include Sam Gilliam, William Christenberry, Lou Stovall, Tim Tate, Richard Diebenkorn, Sandra Ramos, Renee Stout, Thomas Downing, Michael Clark, Jim Sanborn, Joe Shannon, Michael B. Platt, and others.[9]


Statue of Artemas Ward at Ward Circle with Katzen Art Center behind

Upon completion, the Katzen Arts Center was immediately received as an architectural gem at American University, not only for its design but also for its purpose to encourage student innovation in media, concept, and approach by uniting facilities for creating, displaying, and performing art under one roof.[1] Designed by EYP Architecture & Engineering,[10] the Center is situated on a very long, narrow site abutting Ward Circle. Other architectural highlights include the piazza with a skylighted rotunda at the center of the facility.

External linksEdit


  1. ^ a b Livingston, Heather. "Einhorn Yaffee Prescott's Katzen Arts Center Really Performs". American Institute of Architects. Archived from the original on January 3, 2009. Retrieved December 13, 2006.
  2. ^ "Katzen Arts Center". American University. Retrieved April 13, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Cooper, Rachel (July 19, 2017). "American University in Washington, DC". Retrieved April 13, 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Alper Initiative for Washington Art". American University. Retrieved August 28, 2020.
  5. ^ a b c Jenkins, Mark (July 30, 2016). "In the galleries: Norman Rockwell would have recognized these socialist images". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved August 28, 2020.
  6. ^ ""The Looking Glass: Artist Immigrants of Washington" At the Katzen Arts Center, Reviewed". Washington City Paper. Retrieved August 28, 2020.
  7. ^ "Artists' work in Washington exhibit focuses on immigrant experience". The Boston Pilot. Retrieved August 28, 2020.
  8. ^ Service, Catholic News (June 23, 2016). "Artists' work in Washington exhibit focuses on immigrant experience". The Central Minnesota Catholic. Retrieved August 28, 2020.
  9. ^ "Past Exhibitions". American University. Retrieved August 28, 2020.
  10. ^ "Katzen Arts Center". EYP. Retrieved April 13, 2018.

Coordinates: 38°56′21″N 77°05′13″W / 38.9393°N 77.087°W / 38.9393; -77.087