Palo Alto Art Center

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Palo Alto Art Center
Formation1971; 49 years ago (1971)
Typegovernmental organization
Purposearts, visual art education
  • 1313 Newell Road,
    Palo Alto, California, U.S.
Coordinates37°26′39″N 122°08′20″W / 37.4441°N 122.1389°W / 37.4441; -122.1389Coordinates: 37°26′39″N 122°08′20″W / 37.4441°N 122.1389°W / 37.4441; -122.1389
Key people
Karen Kienzle (director, 2009)
The main entrance of the Palo Alto Art Center
The main entrance of the Palo Alto Art Center
Visitors playing in the sculpture Whiplash
Visitors playing in the sculpture Whiplash (2016).

The Palo Alto Art Center is a multi-purpose center open to the public for art activities for all ages, located at 1313 Newell Road in Palo Alto, California. It is managed by the City of Palo Alto, California and supported by the non-profit Palo Alto Art Center Foundation (PAACF).[1] The center is located adjacent to Rinconada Park and the Rinconada Public Library.


The Palo Alto Art Center was originally named the Palo Alto Community Cultural Center when it was founded in 1971.[2] The building which occupies Palo Alto Art Center was built in 1953 by architect Leslie Nichols and used to be the location for Palo Alto's City Hall.[3] From 2010 until 2012, the building underwent major renovations which included adding additional classrooms and a new children's wing.[2][3]

Karen Kienzle has been the director of Palo Alto Art Center since 2009.[3]


Arts education[edit]

The Art Center has art classes for both adults and children, workshops, summer camps, and drop-in programs that take place in the Center's studios and classrooms. Courses include painting, drawing, mixed-media, ceramics, and jewelry. School outreach programs include offering schools with Project Look field trips and the Cultural Kaleidoscope program that pairs students from the Palo Alto Unified School District and Ravenswood City School District for art activities.[4][non-primary source needed]

Exhibitions and events[edit]

Visitors can view free exhibitions with artwork in a wide range of media, and participate in free events. Events include Friday Night at the Art Center[5], Family Days, The Great Glass Pumpkin Patch, and the Clay and Glass Festival.

The City of Palo Alto maintains a list of past exhibitions. Some highlights are:

  • 2017 exhibition, Play! contained a range of pieces exploring the power of play.[6]
  • 2018 exhibition, Through That Which Is Seen shared the art of dioramas.[7]
  • 2019 exhibition, The Sheltering Sky features 18 artists on sky-related themes, such as the 2-story photo "Sky Front" by Sukey Bryan.[8][9]

A Patrick Dougherty temporary installation called Whiplash (2016), which was a woven structure of willow branches forming a series of shelters was on display the lawn on Embarcadero Road and was a popular place where many people took photographs.[10][11] Dougherty's sculpture was created in part by a team of volunteers and a crowdfunding campaign of $15,000.[12] In June 2020, the Dougherty sculpture was removed.[12]

The artists-in-residence program also provide opportunities for artists to engage with the public.[13]



  1. ^ Sheyner, Gennady (2019-08-05). "Palo Alto Art Center Foundation aims for more funding, engagement". Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  2. ^ a b Kane, Karla (2010-08-20). "Art Center to undergo $7 million renovation". Palo Alto Online. Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  3. ^ a b c Wallace, Rebecca (2012-08-27). "Palo Alto Art Center preps for opening day". Retrieved 2020-03-05. While Kienzle has been director only since 2009,
  4. ^ "Cultural Kaleidoscope". Palo Alto Art Center. City of Palo Alto. Retrieved 13 February 2019.
  5. ^ "Colorful Friday Night at the Art Center - Palo Alto". Funcheap SF. Funcheap SF. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  6. ^ "The Palo Alto Arts Center Explores the Concept of Play in New Exhibit". Juxtapoz magazine. Juxtapoz. 2017. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  7. ^ "Art exhibit explores the tiny, detailed worlds of dioramas". San Francisco Chronicle. SF Chronicle. Retrieved 31 March 2019.
  8. ^ Whiting, Sam. "Sukey Bryan hangs the sky at Palo Alto Art Center". Datebook. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 31 March 2019.
  9. ^ Kane, Karla. "Art from above". Palo Alto Online. Palo Alto Weekly. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  10. ^ "A&E: Worth a Look". Palo Alto Online. Palo Alto Online. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  11. ^ "The Top Ten Most Instagram-Worthy Spots in Palo Alto". Between Balloons (Solo Pine). Retrieved 13 February 2019.
  12. ^ a b "Around Town: Students build replica of Ohlone Elementary on Minecraft". Palo Alto Weekly. Retrieved 2020-07-20.
  13. ^ "Artists in Residence". Palo Alto Art Center. City of Palo Alto. Retrieved 13 February 2019.

External links[edit]