WMU News

Grand opening set for Campus Cinema

Aug. 29, 1997

KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University officials and community leaders will participate in the grand opening Friday, Sept. 5, of WMU's new Campus Cinema. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. at the theatre, which is located at the corner Oakland Drive and Oliver Street on the University's East Campus.

The Campus Cinema will serve the University and the community as an art film theatre featuring the latest projection, sound and lighting equipment. It occupies the Oakland Recital Hall, which has been completely renovated in an Art Deco style.

"We open this facility with deep appreciation to our friends in the greater Kalamazoo community, who so generously have supported this effort," said WMU President Diether H. Haenicke. "We especially want thank the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, without whose commitment this project could not have been completed."

In addition to Haenicke, participants in the grand opening ceremony will include Harold S. Holland, vice chairperson of the Gilmore Foundation, and Dr. Robert C. Hinkel, chairperson of the University Film Series and associate professor of English. The Kalamazoo Film Society, other private donors and the state of Michigan also contributed to the $900,000 cost of the project.

Renovation of the Oakland Recital Hall began a year ago under the direction of the WMU Office of Campus Planning and Diekema-Hamann Architects Inc. of Kalamazoo. Facilities include 35 mm, 16 mm and video projection equipment as well as a six-channel Surround Sound audio system.

The cinema's large seamless screen measures 14 by 30 feet. Its 192 seats are original and have been rebuilt and enlarged. In addition to its use for films, the new theatre will play host to occasional recitals and lectures. It eventually also could be used for satellite downlink programs.

The Campus Cinema includes two etched-glass doors, which were designed by students in the WMU Department of Art. Two other such glass panels, designed by students when the hall was built in the 1940s, are expected to be displayed later in the new theatre.

"It's a nice touch to have the work of students from these two eras brought together," said Evie Asken, director of campus planning. "We're very pleased with the way this project has turned out. It will be a nice addition to the University and the community."

The University Film Series along with the Kalamazoo Film Society will present a wide range of art, alternative and international films that would seldom come to the community's commercial movie houses, Haenicke said. The first three films scheduled for the cinema are "Lost Highway," "Pink Floyd the Wall" and "Cinema Paradiso."

Built in 1942, Oakland Recital Hall served as the venue for WMU theatrical and musical presentations until Shaw Theatre was completed in 1967 and the Dalton Center opened in 1982. In recent years, the building housed offices for the University's building custodial and support services. Its renovation is part of the continued restoration of WMU's historic East Campus.


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