Washington University is turning 150 and the public is invited to join in the birthday celebration

Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes at one of the top research universities in the country? Well, here’s your opportunity to find out.

Washington University in St. Louis is celebrating its founding 150 years ago and is inviting the public to join in the birthday celebration with an open house from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sept. 14, 2003.

Click on image to view full invitation. (.pdf download)

With more than 200 activities and events planned — ranging from lectures, readings and performances, to health screenings, sports clinics and interactive mock trials — the day promises to offer something of interest to everyone.

All 200-plus events are free and open to the public. Food and beverages will be available during the open house.

A performance by the world-renowned Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra will cap off the day at 7 p.m. in Brookings Quadrangle. Guests are welcome to bring food, beverages, blankets or lawn chairs to the concert.

“In celebrating our 150th birthday we are reaffirming our commitment to the community,” said Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton. “We are delighted to open our campus to members of our community and hope that everyone will have an enjoyable time exploring our facilities and learning about what we do.”

The birthday party will kick off the University’s sesquicentennial year with a bang. Highlights will include a unique and hilarious chemistry presentation from Chancellor “Magic” Mark Wrighton, concerts from members of the University’s music program, readings from faculty writers, dance presentations, and international games and music.

Free shuttles to the School of Medicine, the number-two ranked medical school in the nation, will allow visitors to enjoy tours, lectures and demonstrations, free posture analysis, and blood pressure and cholesterol screenings.

The birthday party will be great fun for children as well. Lewis the Robot Photographer will be on hand to take photos; professor and distinguished author Gerald Early will read children’s literature; a literary scavenger hunt will be held; and baseball, basketball, soccer and volleyball clinics will be offered. Kids will also have an opportunity to browse through an amazing collection of pop-up books and can even try making their own.

A highlight for children will be Goldilocks on Trial — Goldilocks vs. the Three Bears. Students will present two performances of the fun mock trial for children and their families. Children, who will be asked to serve as jurors, will be entertained while also learning some of the terminology and mechanics of a trial.

In addition to the planned activities, visitors can also tour the University’s art museum. Founded in 1881 as part of the St. Louis School and Museum of Fine Arts, the Gallery of Art at Washington University is the oldest art museum west of the Mississippi River. Two new exhibitions, Influence 150: 150 Years of Shaping a City, a Nation, the World and Contemporary Projects — Alan Cohen: Photographing Traces, will open Sept. 5 and will be open during the birthday celebration.

Founded in 1853, Washington University was located in downtown St. Louis for its first 50 years and was known as a “street car” college. Ground for a new site on the edge of the city was purchased in 1894, and in 1900 construction began on the first five buildings using the Academic Gothic style inspired by the architecture of Oxford and Cambridge universities.

These first buildings with their Bedford limestone and Missouri red granite exteriors, arches and gargoyles formed Brookings Quadrangle. Upon completion, these original buildings were leased to the Louisiana Purchase Exposition Company for use as administrative offices and exhibit space for the 1904 World’s Fair.

The lease money made it possible to begin construction of four additional buildings, and the nine new buildings were used for the Fair before the University moved in on Jan. 30, 1905. Francis Field, the athletic stadium, was built to accommodate the 1904 Olympic games — the first Olympian Games to be held in the Western Hemisphere — presented in conjunction with the Fair.

Today, 20 Hilltop Campus buildings are listed in the National Register of Historic Places; these buildings are known collectively as the Hilltop Campus Historic District.

The University now has approximately 12,000 students from all 50 states and more than 110 international locations. The University offers more than 90 programs and almost 1,500 courses leading to bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in a broad spectrum of traditional and interdisciplinary fields.

The School of Medicine, founded in 1891, has 943 students and nearly 1,500 faculty members. It is one of the top medical research facilities in the world.