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A group of faculty members proposed the idea of a liberal arts institute as an innovative way to provide intellectual as well as physical "space" for the scholarly development of the faculty. Their goal was to create an imaginatively designed and managed institute, outside the curriculum but creatively linked to it, to give faculty, students and outside experts a place to collaborate on research projects of broad scope.

They also envisioned a rich series of public events related to these projects to enhance the intellectual life of the college.

A generous bequest from Louise Wolff Kahn '31 substantially augmented the Louise W. and Edmund J. Kahn Fund for Faculty Excellence, making it possible to establish the Kahn Liberal Arts Institute in 1998. The institute opened in September 2000 on the third floor of Neilson Library. The Kahn Institute is now located at 21 Henshaw Avenue.

  Alex Keller

Alexandra Keller,
Director, Kahn Institute

Alexandra Keller, Director of Film and Media Studies, was appointed Director of the Kahn Institute in summer 2017. Keller specializes in the American Western; cinema and the postmodern, avant-garde and experimental film; and the relationship between cinema and other forms of artistic and cultural production. Keller is working on projects about consumer culture and cinema in 1950s America, the connections and disconnections between experimental moving image practices in the context of galleries and museums and more traditional exhibition sites, and the impact of new media and the digital on traditional cinematic forms.