Party like it’s 1993: AHC Celebrates 25 years in the Centennial Complex

The University of Wyoming American Heritage Center and Art Museum are hosting a public open house for the 25th anniversary of their shared building, the Centennial Complex on Friday, September 14, from 1-4 p.m.

On the theme of “Celebrating the Past, Looking Forward”, the Open House will feature tours and highlights from the American Heritage Center collections, spotlight tours in the Art Museum exhibitions and galleries, hands-on art-making activities and musical performances throughout the afternoon.


One of the originally proposed building designs for the American Heritage Center with a large “W” on facade, 1980-1989. AHC Photo Files.

In 1986 the University of Wyoming launched the “Centennial Campaign,” at the time the most ambitious fundraising campaign in UW’s history with the goal to raise $19 million for a new building to house the American Heritage Center (AHC) and University of Wyoming Art Museum (UWAM), 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.


Construction of the Centennial Complex, 1992. AHC Photo Files.

Architect Antoine Predock described his inspiration for the building as an “’archival mountain’… with a village, the art museum, at its base.” Predock 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.”


Antoine Predock, left, discussing the schematics of the Centennial Complex using a scaled, dissected model, 1989. AHC Photo Files.


Early sketch of interior, forest area (now the Loggia) of the American Heritage Center, Centennial Complex, undated. AHC Photo Files.


Detailed look at model and the various construction phases of the Centennial Complex including its collection areas, undated. AHC Photo Files.

“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 acting director and Dean of Libraries, Ivan Gaetz. “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—and these are the truly spiritual dimensions of the whole edifice.”


Centennial Complex today.


For more information on the festivities, contact the AHC at (307) 766-4114, or follow the AHC on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.


This entry was posted in announcements, Centennial Complex, Current events, events, exhibits, Uncategorized, University of Wyoming, University of Wyoming history, Wyoming history and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply