In the summer of 1969, a group of local Park City artists came together to launch an open-air arts festival on historic Main Street. Their aim was to imbue Park City – already a bustling ski resort during the winter – with cultural offerings offseason, during the summer months. Within a few short years, the Art Festival had taken off, drawing some 40,000 visitors to the town. Inspired by the artists’ creative energy, Ogden-born philanthropist Bill Kimball decided to expand upon their efforts through the creation of a permanent home for the visual arts in Park City.
Bill Kimball’s hopes came to fruition several years later when, in 1976, the Kimball Art Center opened its doors. Its first location was the once-dilapidated, newly-renovated Eley Garage on Park Avenue. At its opening, Bill Kimball expressed his fervent hope that the space would “provide the opportunity for each person to expand his interest in the arts.” For nearly fifty years, Kimball Art Center has been engaged in the work of fulfilling its founder’s vision.
Since its founding, Kimball has expanded considerably in its programs and offerings. Within months of opening, Kimball was teeming with activity, offering over 35 classes spanning many media, and exhibiting the work of local students, as well as established Utah artists. Under the auspices of the Art Center, the Kimball Arts Festival – true to the spirit of its originators in the summer of 1969 – has established itself as one of Utah’s leading cultural events, attracting 50,000 visitors annually, and garnering national attention for the 200+ artists whose work it displays.
Recent solo and group shows have been devoted to the work of internationally-acclaimed artists, from painters Xi Zhang (2020) and Kara Walker (2015), to mixed media artist Zhi Lin (2019), sculptor Richard Serra (2017), conceptual artist John Baldessari (2015), and installation art duo Christo and Jeanne-Claude (2014).
In addition to mounting regular exhibitions of local and world-renowned artists, Kimball encourages artistic creation across media through the more than 300 classes it offers annually, robust classroom outreach programs, summer camps for children of all ages, and studio spaces for the Park City community. Unique in its status as the only nonprofit organization in Utah committed to bringing art education to public school classrooms, Kimball reaches some 15,000 students each year.
As its needs have increased, Kimball has outgrown its original Park Avenue location. Since 2015, it has occupied a temporary home at 1401 Kearns Boulevard. Situated in Bonanza Park, this location is the future site of Park City’s arts and culture district, the focal point of which will be Kimball’s new building, to be designed by internationally-renowned Danish architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). Slated to open in 2024, the new Kimball Art Center will possess dynamic, state-of-the-art facilities, including digital classrooms; studios for clay, painting, and mixed media; climatized exhibition galleries; as well as flexible performance spaces.