The Horn Gallery was once a small, dilapidated barn. After its purchase in 1994 from local mason Edith Horn, the soon-to-be gallery had to be cleaned. Horse stalls were removed and the entire floor had to be replaced. Twenty-three years later, the Horn has become a hub for the arts at Kenyon.
Although the Horn is known primarily as a concert venue, it also houses student art exhibitions, slam poetry performances and student activist group meetings. In the past, the once-barn has hosted such nationally-recognized artists as Danny Brown and Macklemore.
“The Horn [has] … broad appeal. You might not like everything we do or put on, but there’s gonna be something for you,” said Nicky Ogilvie-Thompson’ 19, a comanager of the Horn. Adelaide Sandvold ’18 is the other manager.
Kate Painter ’95 introduced the idea to establish the Horn Gallery because she was concerned about the lack of art exhibition space at Kenyon. Painter petitioned and raised money for two years until, finally, the little gray barn near Peirce Hall opened as a student-run gallery in 1994. Students named it the Horn Gallery after the building’s previous owner. Painter envisioned the Horn as “a place in which students can exhibit artwork, whether it had been created for academic classes or through purely the love of art,” according to an April 1994 article in the Collegian.
In 1998, administrators and student coordinators at the Horn agreed that the building could not exist in its current form. The old barn was both unsafe and too small. Plans were made to tear down the old gallery and build a new one. Students, though, demanded that the Horn remain in its original location and the new space should maintain the barn feeling both for reasons of practicality and tradition.
The original barn structure was torn down in the fall of 1998. The Horn moved to a temporary trailer (lovingly named the ‘Horn-mobile’) and work on the new gallery began immediately. The building we know today opened in early May of 2000.
The Horn has since expanded its focus from only exhibiting student artwork. The space is best known for the concerts held there. In recent years, along with the aforementioned artists, the Horn has also hosted other acclaimed musicians such as singer-songwriter Mitski, electronic composer Dan Deacon, hip-hop duo Shabazz Palaces and Killer Mike of the popular rap group Run the Jewels. Additionally, the Horn Gallery hosted multiple former Kenyon bands who have since gained national recognition, such as Sports, an alternative rock band comprised of class of 2015 and 2016 alumni, and Pinegrove, an indie rock band whose lyricist and keyboardist both graduated from Kenyon in 2011.
Just last weekend, The Horn was filled with students as they danced and moshed to the music of the band Tall Juan. “You don’t get that kind of feeling from anything other than live music … That’s what the Horn is for: providing that outlet,” Ogilvie-Thompson said.