The Craft Center at Kenyon began as the Experimental College in the 1960s by students and community members seeking to provide practical, hands-on training in a variety of skills not available through the traditional college curriculum.
Courses were offered for and by students, faculty, and community members according to their individual skills and interests. The selection ranged from ceramics, stained glass, and quilting to banjo playing, meditation, and billiard techniques.
The Craft Center moved into its old location in 1972. The building itself has an interesting history. Originally located across from the old alumni building, it was moved to its current location in 1885. From 1945 to 1958 it was the home of John Crowe Ransom who was the founding editor of the Kenyon Review.
The Craft Center then moved to its current location (the old Art Barn) in the Spring of 2013.
Pottery and ceramics have been an important part of the Craft Center since the beginning. In 1982 Joyce Parr, a former member of the art faculty, introduced the first quilting class. Quilting was then taught by Elaine Hartley, one of Parr's original students. The stained-glass program was introduced in 1985 by Carol Mason. Until 1987, the Craft Center student coordinators lived on the second floor and received discounted room and board in exchange for their Craft Center leadership and activities. The Craft Center still employs a student manager who resides in regular college housing.
The primary focus of the Craft Center has been and will continue to be to provide the Kenyon community with quality programs in traditional and handcrafted arts, taught by skilled practitioners in those disciplines. The Craft Center serves as a catalyst for student/community interaction by involving local artisans and students as instructors and by encouraging one-day workshops and trips to local studios and shops. We strive to make this facility a place where there is a connection between humanness and creativity.
The Craft Center also fulfills a unique function on campus. It not only provides the opportunity for students to develop skills in specific crafts but it also provides an alternative venue for self-expression in a non-academic, non-pressured atmosphere.