This Saturday, October 9, at 8:00 p.m., the Fermilab Arts Series will roll out the
red carpets and celebrate 30 years of hosting arts performances and lectures
for the public with a special return performance by the first group ever to perform at Fermilab --
the Fine Arts String Quartet. A wine and cheese reception will follow the
performance with commemorative talks from past and current members of the
Auditorium Committee. Tickets are still available for the 30th anniversary
Founding Director Robert Wilson originally built Ramsey Auditorium for scientific
lectures and conferences, but Fermilab employees Art and Janice Roberts requested
that he make it available for performances too. (Wilson actually designed the
auditorium with extra leg room in the first section of rows in the auditorium and
less in the rear with the hope of encouraging people to sit right up front for
lectures.) While the acoustics weren't perfect and the stage was on the small
side for a dance troupe, the Roberts, with the support of Wilson's wife Jane,
successfully launched the Arts Series thirty years ago.
Although the Arts and Lecture Series benefited employees and users,
who at the time didn't have many
local alternatives, the events were immediately intended for
the public. "We worked very hard to have an audience who would develop a loyalty," said Assistant Director Jeff Appel, who chaired the Auditorium Committee
from 1979 to 1987. In recent years, more than 10,000 patrons have come annually to
Fermilab to attend a variety of performances, from Christmas specials to modern
"We view our series as a bridge to the community," said NuMI's Jorge Morfin,
an Auditorium Committee member since 1983 and Chair from 1998 to 2000.
"It was designed
to entice neighbors to visit."
Over the years, the Fermilab Arts Series has grown and continues to bring
entertaining, unique and sometimes even risky performances -- artistically
speaking of course -- to Ramsey Auditorium. "It's a beautiful auditorium,"
Appel said. "It would be a shame to have it dark all the time."