Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center at UMSL

(Photo by August Jennewein)

The Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center has become a beloved St. Louis art institution since its opening in 2003, but the center’s reputation is gaining a spotlight on the national stage. named the Touhill to its recent list of 25 Most Amazing College Campus Theaters. The Touhill placed 10th on the list, ahead of schools like Yale University, the University of Michigan, Brown University and New York University. The Touhill was the only honoree in Missouri.

The list-maker considered interior and exterior design, history, use of space and architectural notability from each center.

“The design is quite like a 21st century European opera house and features all of the modern technology to put on an incredible show,” says.

“It is gratifying to have the Touhill named among a group of such high-profile institutions and facilities,” said Jean Miller, dean of UMSL’s College of Fine Arts and Communications. “I believe that this kind of recognition does bring increased interest to the college’s performing arts programs, as well as to dance, music, theatre in St. Louis and the region.”

The Touhill’s Anheuser-Busch Performance Hall offers 1,600 seats, with the E. Desmond and Mary Ann Lee Theater offering seating for up to 375. The facility features a busy calendar of more than 150 events per year, ranging from student and community events to professional touring companies. It is also home to professional resident companies such as Modern American Dance Company, or MADCO, and the Arianna String Quartet.

One of the Touhill’s best assets is its flexibility, said John Cattanach, the center’s director. The facility has the large auditorium, but also has flexible spaces like the Lee Theater and the open Whitaker Hall.

“It’s a great performance home and lab for students in music, theater and dance, but it’s also invited the larger performance community in,” Cattanach said.

The UMSL Experience

Rachel Webb

Rachel Webb