Colby to Create New Arts Collaborative in Downtown Waterville

February 17, 2020

Major Gift Will Turn Buildings into a One-of-a-Kind Space for Central Maine

Building on Waterville’s momentum as a dynamic arts and cultural destination, Colby College today announced that it has received a $3-million gift from Peter H. Lunder ’56, D.F.A. ’98 and Life Trustee Paula Crane Lunder, D.F.A. ’98 through the Lunder Foundation to develop an arts collaborative on Main Street. The new space, which is expected to open at the end of the year, will include a renovation and consolidation of the existing 14 and 20 Main Street buildings—located at the southern end of the street—and play an important role in the overarching plan to leverage the arts to help drive the resurgence of downtown Waterville.

The arts collaborative will benefit Colby students and faculty as well as the broader community by providing vibrant arts programming and artist studios. With a ground floor area for community performances and cultural activity (art exhibitions, poetry readings, musical performances, etc.), this project will enhance Waterville’s identity as a center for the performing and visual arts.

The building will provide a dedicated space for Lunder Institute for American Art staff, affiliated scholars, and artist residents to advance creative expression, develop new scholarship, and contribute to the exciting activity in downtown Waterville. Moreover, the arts collaborative will solidify the convening power of the Lunder Institute to attract artists and scholars from around the world to engage in cross-disciplinary dialogues and to stimulate the production of original art and new collaborations.

This rendering shows how 14 and 20 Main Street will be converted into a new arts collaborative, with the first floor open for exhibitions, performances, and events and the upper floors housing artist studios and the Lunder Institute.

“It is hard not to think of the arts first when we think of Peter and Paula Lunder,” said Colby College President David A. Greene. “But as much as the Lunders value the arts, they are truly remarkable for always considering the needs of others first. This gift is another example of their generosity and selflessness, their desire to strengthen this community and improve the lives of all who call central Maine home. The arts enrich us by punctuating our daily routines with moments of brilliance and beauty. They challenge us and reveal the complexities of the human condition and our capacity for creativity. And they inspire us. I could certainly say the same of the Lunders, who bring beauty into our lives and inspire us to find our very best selves.”

Formerly of Waterville, philanthropists Peter and Paula Lunder are dedicated to transforming lives and communities through art, including at Colby. In 1995 the Lunders pledged the lead gift to build the Lunder Wing at the Colby College Museum of Art, and in 2007 promised their collection of more than 500 works of art to the College, establishing the Lunder Collection. In 2017 they also gifted an additional 1,150 artworks and endowed funds to establish the Lunder Institute for American Art.

A Growing Arts Ecosystem

The arts collaborative adds to a rich and integrated set of art and cultural institutions throughout Waterville, including the Colby College Museum of Art, the Lunder Institute for American Art, the Gordon Center for Creative and Performing Arts, and the Paul J. Schupf Art Center. With its artist residency programs and dynamic exhibition and performance space, the arts collaborative will bring new activity and vibrancy to downtown Waterville and continue to grow Waterville’s position as a major center for the arts and culture. Together with the Paul J. Schupf Art Center, which is slated to open in late 2021, Main Street will feature a diverse set of arts programming that will enrich life in Waterville, provide new opportunities for creative expression for students and community members alike, and help to drive economic activity throughout the city.

“The arts collaborative that is planned for Main Street in Waterville is meaningful to our family,” said Peter and Paula Lunder. “It brings together those elements that we believe in—creating art and sharing it with the people we admire and the community we enjoyed being a part of for so many years.”

With the addition of the Lockwood Hotel, visitors to Waterville who are drawn here for business, recreation, or the arts will have a new occasion to stay downtown and enjoy the shops, restaurants, and cultural attractions as part of their visit. The Lockwood Hotel will also feature art by Maine-based artists, including works by Bernard Langlais and Tanja Hollander.

One-of-a-Kind Space for Central Maine

By combining the first floor of 14 and 20 Main Street, the new arts collaborative will provide a fluid and flexible creative space, including moveable walls, seats, and risers, for the broad community to engage with art. The exterior façade will include large windows to allow for ample light and engagement off Main Street.

The second and third floors of the arts collaborative will house flexible artist studio and maker spaces, which are being designed to support both established and emerging artists. In the near term, the fourth floor will house Lunder Institute staff and affiliates and serve as a central convening location for scholars and researchers.

“Having many artists under one roof will enable Colby to support creative production among a much broader community,” commented David C. Driskell, D.F.A. ’00, renowned American artist and historian whose important work is included in the Colby Museum of Art. “This innovative space will allow Colby students, faculty, and local artists to work side by side with Lunder Institute artists in residence—a mutually enriching experience for all.” 

Through the new arts collaborative, Colby also intends to forge a partnership with the Maine College of Art (MECA) to support students and recent MECA graduates, including MECA Lunder Scholars. This partnership is aimed at providing artists in residence with opportunities in Waterville’s arts ecosystem.