Why do people come to the Chautauqua Institution? Many of the visitors who return to Chautauqua year after year describe it as an experience rather than a vacation -- a place for renewal. The Chautauqua Institution was founded on the belief that everyone has a right to be all that he can be -- to know all that he can know.
A dramatic lakeside setting and the beauty of its National Historic Landmark architecture make the Chautauqua Institution a thriving community where visitors come to find intellectual and spiritual growth and renewal. It is a summer center that encompasses the arts, education, religion and recreation; a place, removed from the day-to-day world, where some of the leading thinkers of our time come to speak to the concerns and issues of today; a place where music, dance, opera, theater and the visual arts create the "Chautauqua Mix." Chautauqua is perhaps best known for its morning lecture series when the Amphitheater stage becomes the platform for distinguished speakers across a broad range of disciplines. Susan B. Anthony argued for women’s suffrage in 1892, and Franklin D. Roosevelt gave his "I Hate War" speech in 1936. Margaret Mead, Amelia Earhart, Thurgood Marshall, Freeman Dyson, Jane Goodall, Sandra Day O'Connor and Kurt Vonnegut have all spoken here.
Founded in 1874 as a training camp for Sunday school teachers, the Institution’s Christian tradition continues with Sunday through Friday morning worship services. There are daily Roman Catholic Masses and Saturday morning Jewish services. The Abrahamic Program endeavors to teach about and build relationships among the Family of Abraham: Jews, Christians and Muslims. Two art galleries feature the works of distinguished contemporary and traditional artists. The Children's School and the Chautauqua Boys' and Girls' Club, considered the oldest summer day camp in the country, contribute to programming for Chautauqua's youth.
In addition to lectures, plays, operas and classical and popular concerts, over 300 Special Studies classes cover such topics as "How to Identify, Value and Sell Antiques," "Digital Photography," "History of Jazz -- The Modern Era" and "Basics of Investing in Stocks, Bonds, and Mutual Funds." The popular entertainment series at the Institution’s Amphitheater has included such notables as Bill Cosby, Randy Travis, The Beach Boys, Loretta Lynn, Amy Grant and Mark Russell. Sailing, two 18-hole golf courses and a learning center, a tennis center with fast-dry courts, two fitness centers (one open year round) and four public beaches cater to visitors. Smith Memorial Library, a full-service, public library, offers computer access, story hours and a well-stocked children's book collection.
The Chautauqua Institution Archives located in the Oliver Archives Center serves as a research center for graduate students, writers and others. A federal post office, the Hurlbut Memorial Church and the Chautauqua Bookstore are also available to the community.