As a formal show of gratitude from the MSU Foundation, the university, the Judith Enyeart Reynolds College of Arts and Letters, and the Department of Art + Design, a dedication ceremony was held to honor Robert and Margaret Carolla for their generous gift to the university that led to the creation of the Carolla Arts Exhibition Center. The ceremony took place on August 5 at Carolla Arts Exhibition Center. At the event, a new plaque for the gallery was unveiled, describing the history of the gallery space and the important role the Carollas have had in the Springfield arts community:
Robert and Margaret Carolla, founded in their belief that art is vital to building and enriching communities, continue their impact on Springfield and the region with this exhibition center named in their honor. Part of Missouri State’s University Galleries and the downtown IDEA Commons campus, the Carolla Arts Exhibition Center is the region’s premier site for contemporary art. Focused on enlivening and enriching the arts experience, the Carolla Arts Exhibition Center serves as a place of connection for students, regional, national, and international artists to gather in community, exchange ideas, and establish career-spanning partnerships—founding a space for the next generation of creative thinkers in the visual and liberal arts to learn from and carry the Carollas’ legacy and dedication to the arts into the future.
Originally, the structure that now houses the Carolla Arts Exhibition Center was home to the Gottfried Furniture Company. Built in 1890 by Prussian-born immigrant and furniture maker Conrad Gottfried, this late-Victorian storefront structure has a rich history and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. Revived and renovated in 2011 and now focused on celebrating art, this new exhibition space enriches the robust presence of the arts in the Springfield community, inspiring beauty and fostering vitality. Robert and Margaret Carolla have deep roots in the growth and success of the arts in Springfield. The heart of the Carolla’s legacy will forever live in the Carolla Arts Exhibition Center, but the impact of their spirit travels with every student and artist who has and will have the privilege of creating, exhibiting, and curating in this premier exhibition space.
Since its opening in fall of 2021, The Carolla Arts Exhibition Center has already served as a space to celebrate the work of student and professional artists from diverse backgrounds and artistic disciplines. It will continue to be enjoyed as a valuable part of Missouri State’s University Galleries and downtown Springfield.
Taylor Ladd is a graduate assistant for the Department of Art + Design. She is working towards her master’s degree in writing at Missouri State University with professional interests in writing about art, culture, and food.