Light shines through brightly colored rings of glass created by Stephen Rolfe Powell.

Anonymous donor pledges $1 million matching gift challenge for Art Center of the Bluegrass expansion, Powell collection acquisition

Centre College News

An anonymous donor has pledged up to $1 million in matching funds to pave the way for an expansion of the Art Center of the Bluegrass, the centerpiece of which is the creation of a National Glass Museum featuring the work of former Centre professor Stephen Rolfe Powell.

Throughout his storied career as an artist, the late Stephen Rolfe Powell ’74 catapulted Centre College and Danville, Kentucky into the national spotlight as an epicenter for innovative glass art.  

Thanks to a partnership between Centre College and the Art Center of the Bluegrass, that spotlight remains bright.  Contingent upon the Art Center of the Bluegrass raising $1 million in new donor commitments from the community, an anonymous donor has agreed to donate a $1 million matching gift to pave the way for expansion of the Art Center and the acquisition of Powell’s personally curated retrospective collection to be permanently displayed at the Center’s upcoming National Glass Museum.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Centre College to partner with the Art Center of the Bluegrass and the City of Danville on a project that closely aligns with the college’s commitment to liberal arts and sciences education and excellence in and out of the classroom,” said Centre President Milton C. Moreland. “Stephen Powell was a global ambassador for the College and the region. This initiative will cement his legacy and ensure his work is accessible for all to enjoy.” 

A man and a woman look closely at a brightly colored glass art vessel in display at a museum.

The Art Center recently acquired a historic building adjacent to its downtown location and announced plans to renovate the space to accommodate arts programs, private studios, a gift gallery and more. The Center’s current home will be transformed into a preeminent glass showplace.  

"At the heart of the expansion is a plan to establish a glass museum and sales gallery that will honor the extensive artistic legacy of Stephen Rolfe Powell,” said Niki Kinkade, executive director of the Art Center of the Bluegrass. “Stephen was a faculty member at Centre College, but he was also dedicated to art in the community, so this partnership honors the difference he made on campus and in Danville."  

Powell rose to fame in the early 1990s, drawing international acclaim for his innovative use of color and shape. While touring the globe exhibiting his work and demonstrating his unique creative process, Powell continued to teach at Centre, influencing a generation of glass artists. His work was displayed at the Art Center last year, coinciding with the unveiling of a memorial sculpture and outdoor classroom on the Centre campus.  

Donations can be made to support the initiative by visiting

"With such an impactful project, it is important to have strong partners. With Centre College and the City of Danville being our two biggest partners, we feel the success of the project is already apparent,” Kinkade said.  


About Centre College 

Centre College is a premier national liberal arts and sciences college, serving approximately 1,400 students. Providing an extraordinary community and a supportive, personal academic path to a meaningful life and career, Centre is one of the nation’s preeminent institutions for study abroad, with programs from Mexico to Bhutan to France, as well as study away programs in Washington, D.C., New York City, and Lake Tahoe, CA. 


About Art Center of the Bluegrass 

Located in downtown Danville, The Art Center of the Bluegrass is the region’s leading visual arts center, drawing more than 20,000 visitors annually. The Center connects people to art, culture, and creativity through rotating art exhibits, arts education for children and adults, and regional outreach programs with a wide range of community partners. For more information, contact Niki Kinkade at or 859-319-7788. 

Two multi-story buildings sit side-by-side along Main Street in Danville, Kentucky.