The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Chautauqua Institution vice president of religion and senior pastor, speaks in 2018 with Civil Rights leader Clara Ester about the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy. The rainbow-colored tapestries behind the Hall of Philosophy dais, lovingly stitched by the hands of Chautauqua community members, helped inspire the “tapestry” motif used in the Institution’s 2019–28 strategic plan, 150 Forward. Photo by Haldan Kirsch

Guided by Our Strategic Plan, Chautauqua Institution Confronted 2020’s Parallel Crises with Resolve and Resiliency

Annual Status Report on 150 Forward

One morning every summer, I open the front door to my home on the Chautauqua grounds and greet dozens of bouncy 5-year-olds who’ve assembled on the front steps. These are the members of my Children’s School Advisory Board, and they come with a list of “demands”: Make the Miller Bell Tower taller. Create a zoo for mythical monsters. Change the color of the steamship Chautauqua Belle to blue, or maybe purple. More hugs! Name a kid co-president!

Often, these young idealists offer ideas with a fair degree of practicality: Add a kids’ zipline to the Children’s…


New York Times Magazine reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones, creator of the Pulitzer Prize-winning “1619 Project,” speaks on June 25, 2019, in the Chautauqua Amphitheater. Photo by Vishakha Gupta

Revisiting Pulitzer Prize Winner Nikole Hannah-Jones’ 2019 Chautauqua Lecture


Social psychologist and Stanford professor Jennifer Eberhardt, author of Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice that Shares What We See, Think, and Do, speaks on Aug. 22, 2019, in the Hall of Philosophy. Photo by Sarah Yenesel

Revisiting Social Psychologist Jennifer Eberhardt’s 2019 Interfaith Lecture

For the closing lecture of our 2019 Interfaith Lecture Series, concluding a week themed “Exploring Race, Religion, and Culture,” we were honored to host Stanford professor and social psychologist Jennifer Eberhardt for a presentation based on her book


Franklin Leonard, founder of The Black List, delivers the July 8, 2020, Chautauqua Lecture on CHQ Assembly from his home in Southern California.
Franklin Leonard, founder of The Black List, delivers the July 8, 2020, Chautauqua Lecture on CHQ Assembly from his home in Southern California.
Franklin Leonard, founder of The Black List, delivers the July 8, 2020, Chautauqua Lecture on CHQ Assembly from his home in Southern California.

Revisiting The Black List Founder Franklin Leonard’s 2020 Chautauqua Lecture

This past summer, we were honored to welcome Franklin Leonard to our CHQ Assembly platform during a week on “Forces Unseen: What Shapes Our Daily Lives” to discuss his work as founder of The Black List. The mission and work of The Black List is to push…


Cedric Alexander (right), who served on President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing in 2014–15, speaks with Chautauqua Institution President Michael E. Hill in an interview broadcast on CHQ Assembly.

Revisiting Policing Expert Cedric Alexander’s 2020 CHQ Assembly Conversation

In early July, we were honored to host Cedric Alexander, the CNN contributor and former president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, on CHQ Assembly to help us unpack ongoing protests against racism and injustice in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. In his…


William J. Burns, president of the Carnegie Endowment of International Peace, speaks with Chautauqua Institution President Michael E. Hill on moments in diplomacy that changed the world on the Amphitheater stage in 2019. Burns is President Biden’s nominee to lead the Central Intelligence Agency. Photo by Alexander Wadley
  • The film loosely based on by Jessica Bruder (Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle, 2018; Writers’ Center faculty, 2019) will debut on Hulu on Feb. 19 and is included in ’ list of the best movies and TV shows coming to the various streaming services this month. Directed by Chloé Zhao and starring Frances McDormand, “Nomadland” the film is receiving 2021 Academy Award buzz. Bruder presented her nonfiction bestseller for the CLSC in 2018 and returned to Chautauqua the following summer as a writer-in-residence at the Chautauqua Writers’ Center. …


Art historian and Harvard professor Sarah Lewis, who guest edited the “Vision & Justice” issue of Aperture magazine, speaks on Aug. 20, 2019, in the Chautauqua Amphitheater. Photo by Dave Munch

Revisiting Art Historian Sarah Lewis’ 2019 Chautauqua Lecture

In 2019, it was our honor to host art historian Sarah Lewis on the Amphitheater stage for a presentation based on her “Vision & Justice” class at Harvard, continuing a week in partnership with Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center themed “Exploring Race and Culture.” …


Amid a Weeklong Celebration of the Women’s Vote Centennial, Revisiting the Institution’s Role as Platform and Catalyst

On a Saturday afternoon in July 1891, the Chautauqua Assembly at Fair Point held its first women’s suffrage meeting. Susan B. Anthony, the Rev. Anna Howard Shaw, Julia Ward Howe, Grace H. Dodge, Zeralda Wallace, and local suffragist Kate Peate attracted “one of the largest audiences of the season,” according to the . Woman’s Day, as it was called, was reported to have been “the best and biggest day Chautauqua ever saw” in its 17-year history, thereafter sparking a tradition of regularly featuring women’s suffrage on Chautauqua’s platform.

Ten years earlier, Chautauqua had hosted its…


Aerial view of Chautauqua Institution’s waterfront, with the Athenaeum Hotel on the left, and Miller Bell Tower at the top right, featured prominently.

As Chautauqua Institution’s Sesquicentennial Approaches, Balancing Heritage and Innovation

In 1874, a Methodist bishop and an Akron businessman started weaving a tapestry.

It was an experiment, this tapestry. Bishop John Heyl Vincent and Lewis Miller founded the Chautauqua Lake Sunday School Assembly to fill a need they both saw for out-of-school, vacation learning. What started as part of the camp meeting trend, and as an attempt to provide a unified Sunday School curriculum, Chautauqua was nearly immediately successful and became a retreat for learning and betterment, threads of people coming through the eye of a needle at Fair Point.

Ferries carried those threads to Chautauqua, to…


An aerial view from above Bemus Bay looking toward the south basin of Chautauqua Lake, with the Interstate 86 Veterans Memorial Bridge at center. Photo by Buffalo Drone Photography

Charting a Course for the Future of Chautauqua Lake

The academic year has ended at the State University of New York at Fredonia. At this time of the year, it’s not uncommon to find Courtney Wigdahl-Perry, Ph.D., on a kayak or boat on Chautauqua Lake. The assistant professor of biology isn’t kicking back for a calm summer following nine months of teaching undergraduates on SUNY Fredonia’s Lake Erie-adjacent campus. She’s leading a multidimensional research program that centers on the ecology of Chautauqua Lake.

“The first summer I was here [in 2015], we started doing some simple but important experiments looking at what algae are…

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