Duane Bonifer  |  Published February 15, 2024

Honoring the Blums

Monmouth’s Buchanan Center for the Arts to name classroom in honor of emeritus professor Harlow Blum and his wife, Lila Blum ’61, a lifelong educator and arts advocate.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – Two local residents with very strong ties to Monmouth College will have a classroom named in their honor in downtown Monmouth.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. Feb. 21 at the Buchanan Center for the Arts, 64 Public Square, to celebrate the Blum Studio classroom. The event is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be served.

THE BLUMS: Harlow was a professor of art at Monmouth from 1959-99. Lila graduated from the College in 1961 and, in addition... THE BLUMS: Harlow was a professor of art at Monmouth from 1959-99. Lila graduated from the College in 1961 and, in addition to her career in education, has been a lifelong advocate of the arts.The classroom is named in honor of Harlow and Lila Blum, who joined the Monmouth community in 1959. They have since dedicated their professional careers and personal lives to education and the arts.

Harlow is a professor of art emeritus at Monmouth, where he taught for 40 years before retiring in 1999. Lila is a 1961 graduate of the College, earning a bachelor of arts degree in English.

“We are excited to have a modern classroom for the community to learn, explore and experience the arts,” said Kristyne Gilbert, executive director of the Buchanan Center and a member of the Monmouth Class of 1990. “The classroom remodel project was an imaginative and lofty dream over the course of the last decade. That dream is a reality with the completion of this project.”

The Blum Studio classroom includes an upgraded kitchen, cabinetry, workspaces for artists and guests, an elevator lift, automated entry and a kiln.


The Blums and the arts

Lila received a master of arts in teaching English as a second language from Columbia University in 1982. A lifelong educator and arts advocate, she was an instructor and administrator at Western Illinois University, completing her tenure in 2003 as director of the International Education & English as a Second Language Institute.

“The classroom remodel project was an imaginative and lofty dream over the course of the last decade. That dream is a reality with the completion of this project.” – Kristyne Gilbert


In 1973, she co-founded the local Art Presenter Program, an arts education program in Warren County public and private schools. She is the 2008 recipient of the Spirit of Grace Patron of the Arts award and the 2000 recipient of a Distinguished Service Award from the Monmouth school district.

Harlow received a bachelor of fine arts degree in painting from University of Illinois, a master of arts in painting from Michigan State University, and a master of fine arts in printmaking from Syracuse University. His work has been exhibited throughout the United States, and he is the recipient of multiple honors and awards, including grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and a fellowship to study at Harvard University.

Under Harlow’s leadership, the Monmouth College Art Department studio program expanded from painting, drawing and printmaking to include sculpture and ceramics. He also helped start a program of art exhibitions open to the public in a campus art gallery and further engaged the community by offering adult art classes, including a silkscreen class attended by the center’s benefactor, Grace Buchanan.

The Blums have traveled and worked in South Korea, India, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan.

They have been active in the Buchanan Center since its inception in 1989, with Lila serving as a board member and an Art Presenter Program liaison. Harlow is a co-founder of Old Friends Talk Art, a monthly gallery talk that features a variety of art topics. Together, they were instrumental in the early phases and process of the Buchanan Center to secure a place in the community for everyone to create, explore and experience the arts.

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