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Mattie Kelly Arts Center

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Art Gallery:
Marjorie Huwa, 2017 Best-in-Show Winner

Art Gallery:
The 26th Emerald Coast National Juried Fine Arts Exhibition

College Production:
The Hunchback of Notre Dame

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Facts & Figures

Mattie Kelly Arts Center

Arts Center Photo
Pottery Wheel, Visual Arts Center


The Mattie Kelly Fine & Performing Arts Center is located on the main campus of Northwest Florida State College in Niceville, Florida, in the beautiful region of the Emerald Coast. Laid out amidst lush wooded landscape, the complex encompasses 120,000 square feet of facilities dedicated to the fine and performing arts. Besides providing a venue for professional performances, the Mattie Kelly Arts Center at NWF State College provides students with educational programs that rival those of many universities. Art students have access to an art wing with two professional art galleries and a new Visual Arts building with four large laboratories for painting/drawing, design/lecture, sculpture and ceramics/pottery.

Tyler Recital HallThe Music Wing features a 24-track digital recording studio, classrooms, individual music instruction rooms, and the acoustically flawless Eva and Donald Tyler Recital Hall. The music wing also holds a large rehearsal hall, the Dewitt and Else Hardmant Orchestra Hall where musical ensembles rehearse and perform. Students enrolled in the Dance program practice their art in a 2000-square foot dance studio. Theater students learn all aspects of theater production including lighting, sound, costuming and set design in addition to performance and entertainment. For more information about these programs, visit humanities hot link.

Mainstage Theater

Main TheaterThe crown jewel of the complex is the two-tiered, 1,650-seat Mainstage Theater which accommodates large-scale Broadway shows. Walls of both lobbies are covered with fossilized Mexican limestone and an Art Deco motif is carried out in the trim, the large chandelier and the grand staircase. The décor is enhanced by an antique piano and organ, both gifts from art patrons.

Gallery ViewThe theater literally towers over the surrounding area with a ten-story fly tower that stores numerous stage backdrops, lights, riggings and curtains. State-of-the-art lighting and acoustics provide a superb theater experience for patrons. Despite its size, no seat is more than 95 feet from the stage. The main theater stage is 46 feet deep, 100 feet tall, and 65 feet in length.

The Mainstage also features: a computerized main curtain, 400 lighting units including six computer controlled "Intellabeams," a 32-channel sound booth, and twin elevators. The orchestra pit at the front apron of the stage can be lowered for an orchestra, raised for additional audience seating or raised to stage level for larger performances.

Sprint Theater

Sprint Theater The Mattie Kelly Arts Center has a flexible, "black box" theater for smaller performances. The 195-seat Sprint Theater can accommodate several different styles of theater: for a two-sided audience, a three-sided audience, or theater in the round. The Sprint Theater features square dimensions (50 feet x 50 feet) and all sections are movable.



The NWF State College Amphitheater, completed in 2003, is a perfect venue for outdoor concerts and shows. Permanent structure seating is available for up to 500 right in front of the expansive stage and the grassy, sloped grounds easily accommodate 3,000 more for a total capacity of 3500 to 4000. Several restroom facilities, concession stands and ample parking complete the appeal of the amphitheater for large events.

The Mattie Kelly Fine & Performing Arts Center Galleries

McIlroy GalleryThe Mattie Kelly Arts Center Galleries consist of two adjoined galleries which together showcase about 20 different international, national and regional exhibitions each year. The Galleries also host workshops and lectures related to the exhibitions.

The beautiful and expansive McIlroy Gallery features an 18-foot ceiling constructed with screened windows, allowing in defused natural light. This gallery was a gift from the McIlroy family through the NWF State College Foundation. The family's contribution, when matched by the Florida Academic Improvement Trust fund, created a $150,000 endowment to underwrite exhibitions, lectures or presentations by guest artists.

The other exhibit area is the Holzhauer Gallery which was named after famed artist Emil Holzhauer who donated a multi-million dollar permanent collection of his works to NWF State College. When not displaying other works, the Holzhauer Gallery displays parts of this collection as well as the college's Sublette Collection of New Guinea Sculpture and Masks or the L.R. Davis Flint Glass Collection.

For more information about the Galleries, please contact Gallery Director and Curator, Kristen "KC" Williams at (850) 729-6044 or email The hours for the Galleries are: Monday to Friday, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm (CST) and 90 minutes prior to most performances in the mainstage theater (generally 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.) The Galleries are closed most holidays.

The Sculpture of the Seven Dancers

Seven DancersWhen commissioned to create an artistic centerpiece for the Mattie Kelly Arts Center, internationally famous sculptor Esther Wertheimer worked in the small Italian community of Pietrasanta for 18 months to produce this inspiring sculpture. Entitled the Seven Dancers, this nine-foot, bronze sculpture graces the central courtyard of the Mattie Kelly Arts Center, known as the circus.

Circus DoorwayThe sculpture depicts seven dancers - three men, three women and a child - who hold hands to form a circle as they dance, floating above a gently overflowing pool of water. The circle they form is a symbol of never-ending camaraderie and a new hope for peace and harmony. Since the sculpture was installed in 1997, Wertheimer's work has become an icon of the complex.