Mission & History

The Lewis Center is designed to put the creative and performing arts at the heart of the Princeton experience. This mission is based on the conviction that exposure to the arts, particularly to the experience of producing art, helps each of us to make sense of our lives and the lives of our neighbors.

In a report presented to the University’s Board of Trustees on Jan. 20, 2006, former President Shirley Tilghman heralded a sweeping initiative for Princeton “not only to expand its programs in the creative and performing arts, but to establish itself as a global leader in the quality of its offerings and in their integration into a broader liberal arts education.”

The result was the formation of a new Center for the Creative and Performing Arts, thereafter named the Lewis Center for the Arts in honor of its lead patron, Peter B. Lewis ’55.

The Lewis Center brings together Princeton’s academic programs in Creative Writing, Dance, Music TheaterTheaterVisual Arts and the Princeton Atelier, and connects them to partners like the Department of Music and the Princeton University Art Museum. In collaboration with Princeton’s Humanities Council and other academic departments and centers, the Lewis Center has enhanced the University’s research initiatives in the arts, while fellowships support the work of established and emerging artists and bring new voices to enliven campus with their creativity.

Today, the Lewis Center encompasses multiple venues on the Princeton Campus, including 185 Nassau Street (Program in Visual Arts), New South Building (Program in Creative Writing), and the Lewis Arts complex (Programs in Dance, Theater, and Music Theater, as well as the Princeton Atelier).


Lewis Center Leadership

Tracy K. Smith, 2019 - present

Past Chair:
Michael Cadden, 2012-2019

Founding Chair:
Paul Muldoon, 2006 - 2011

» Lewis Center Advisory Council