As the creative training ground for young artists and performers in Butte County, it should be no surprise that Chico State University is home to a variety of galleries and performance spaces—but it may be a surprise to learn that you don’t have to be a student to visit them.
Perhaps the most well-known of Chico State’s museums is the Gateway Science Museum, actually located about a half-mile off campus. Dedicated to inspiring the exploration of science in youths, this is a particularly good spot to visit if you have kids in tow, but kids at heart will have fun, too!
Back on campus, just steps from the bustle of Downtown Chico, Laxson Auditorium is a central part of both the university and the larger Chico community. With 1,200 seats, it is the largest theater in Butte County, so it hosts touring groups, special guests, concerts, and more, including student-produced performances, throughout the year, making it a popular date-night destination on any given weekend.
Walking further into campus, you’ll discover spaces that promote work ranging from professional exhibits to fully student-created and curated. At Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology in the Meriam Library complex, you’ll be able to explore the fully student-led museum, where museum studies students research, design, and install three new exhibitions each year.
At the nearby Arts and Humanities building, three museums and galleries share the first floor, showcasing a variety of artwork just steps from each other. The Janet Turner Print Museum houses a permanent collection of more than 3,500 fine art prints from 40 countries spanning six centuries, with several public exhibitions throughout the year.
Students pursuing their Masters of fine arts (MFA) showcase their work at the Masters of Fine Arts Gallery with rotating exhibitions, while the Jacki Headley University Art Gallery hosts exhibits from regional, national, and international artists as well as the MFA culminating exhibitions and Annual Juried Student exhibition.
For undergraduate art students, the B-So Space is a student-centered space primarily used for Bachelor of Fine Arts students to showcase their culminating solo exhibitions as well as feature work from various art classes and student clubs.
So during your next visit to Butte County, make sure to catch a show and explore a gallery at Chico State—no student ID needed.
Most of the museums and galleries are normally open to the public only when school is in session, but due to COVID-19, all are closed or offered online exhibitions only in 2020-2021. Please check the Chico State website for current openings and hours.