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Rubenstein Arts Center to Open This Weekend

'The Ruby' gives Duke a new arts hub in the center of campus

Duke's new Rubenstein Arts Center Opens January 8, 2018
Duke's new Rubenstein Arts Center Opens January 8, 2018

Duke University’s new Rubenstein Arts Center will open Jan. 8, 2018, giving the arts a prominent new home in the center of campus.

The building -- nicknamed “The Ruby” -- will have myriad uses. It will house two academic programs: dance and arts of the moving image. More than 30 arts courses will be taught in the facility during the spring semester, and it will also be a venue for public arts programs and student rehearsals and events. 

“The Rubenstein Arts Center brings the arts to the center of academic inquiry and campus life,” said Vice Provost for the Arts Scott Lindroth. “We now have a platform to truly innovate arts education at Duke.”

The arts center was established with a $25 million founding gift from philanthropist and Duke alumnus David Rubenstein (Trinity ’70) in 2015. The 70,000-square foot building was designed to support the artistic process, offering flexible multipurpose studios, seminar classrooms, a collaborative workspace with 3D printers and laser cutters, the von der Heyden Studio Theater, a film screening theater and more. The Ruby Lounge is a student gathering space by day and a venue for student rehearsals and performances by night. It is adjacent to new studios for WXDU, Duke’s longtime student-run college radio station.

The center was designed by William Rawn Associates, a Boston-based architecture firm that counts among its projects numerous arts and music facilities. It sits along Campus Drive, a short walk from the Nasher Museum of Art and the Sarah P. Duke Gardens, with glass facades through which the making of dance, film, visual art, theater and other art is visible.

The new facility solves significant space needs at Duke. In addition to accommodating the programs in dance and the arts of the moving image, the arts center features flexible studio space available to the Duke community.

Lindroth is debuting several new initiatives with the arts center opening, including “mini residencies” for individuals or teams undertaking arts projects. The center will also serve as a home for visiting artists at Duke, who Lindroth hopes to integrate more fully into the university curriculum.

The performance spaces expand the types of performances and artists Duke can bring to campus. The 200-seat von der Heyden Studio Theater is a flexible venue for professional and student performances. The building’s film theater has a digital projector in addition to four archival format machines. Experimental filmmaker Nathaniel Dorsky will utilize the archival film technology while presenting several short films Feb. 2-5.

On March 8 and 9, Duke Performances will present the premiere of “THE_OPER&, a media and music performance created by Duke faculty members John Supko and Bill Seaman.

The first visiting artist in the new facility will be Chicago-born painter Nina Chanel Abney, whose large-scale paintings take on some of today’s most pressing social justice issues. Her work was previously showcased on campus in a 2017 Nasher Museum of Art exhibition. Abney will visit classes, collaborate with students and participate in public programs during her residence as the Duke-UNC Nannerl O. Keohane Distinguished Visiting Professor in February and March.

There will be a grand opening celebration featuring activities and programs throughout the building on Saturday, Feb. 3, from 1-4 p.m.

The acting director for the arts center is Chuck Catotti, and the assistant director for visual and studio arts is Bill Fick. The Ruby is supported by the Office of the Vice Provost for the Arts, Trinity College of Arts and Sciences and University Center Activities and Events.

For more information and photos of the Rubenstein Arts Center, visit or contact Katy Clune at