krebs center exterior

Krebs Center for the Humanities

Where the exploration of the past meets the horizons of the future

The Krebs Center for the Humanities is set in an Italianate villa in Lake Forest where the traditional and the cutting-edge converge, and where literature, philosophy, history, and the arts are not just subjects of study, but also dynamic forces that prepare students to meet an ever-evolving future.

The Krebs Center underscores the College's commitment to paving the way for a future where creativity, critical thinking, and empathy take center stage.

Welcome to the Krebs Center for the Humanities 

The humanities foster critical thinking, and the interpretation of complex texts, art, and circumstances remain the essential skills of our rapidly changing world. The Krebs Center fosters innovative and interdisciplinary scholarship and pedagogy in the humanities at Lake Forest College. Housed in a magnificent Italianate villa built by Robert and Anne Krebs in Lake Forest, the Krebs Center’s work directly benefits students while integrating the humanities into the world beyond the classroom.  The Krebs Center marks Lake Forest College’s enduring commitment to the humanities, connecting the rich history of the past with the key questions and challenges of the present.   

statue outside of the krebs center

Scholarship and Research

The Krebs Center for the Humanities serves as a resource for scholarship and research. Here, faculty, students, and visitors will not only explore the centuries-old humanist tradition, but will also explore the implications of that tradition for our rapidly changing world. The Krebs Center presents students with a reservoir of world-class art and exciting opportunities for interdisciplinary collaborations. Supported by faculty dedicated to mentoring the next generation of thinkers, students will be equipped to complete high-level humanities research. 

students reading together

Student Enrichment

Our commitment to student enrichment goes beyond textbooks and exams. The Krebs Center for the Humanities supports the College in nurturing the whole person and fostering a vibrant environment where students can explore their passions, cultivate critical thinking skills, and engage with the world in meaningful ways. Through lectures and events, class trips and research, and immersive on-site experiences, the Krebs Center provides students with the tools to not only excel academically but also to develop a deep understanding of the human experience.  

krebs center event

Lectures and Events

The Krebs Center for the Humanities is not just a place of learning; it’s a vibrant stage where ideas come to life. Throughout the academic year, we support a diverse series of events and experiences. From captivating lectures that delve into the link between artificial intelligence and the humanities, to events that celebrate the richness of human expression, we strive to create an immersive environment that goes beyond the traditional classroom setting. 

The Humanities in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

Our world is experiencing an unprecedented convergence of technology, culture, and the human experience. What role do the humanities play in this future, and how can we prepare our students for a rapidly changing world? Artificial Intelligence is set to be a cornerstone of the journey forward, but what does that mean for the concept of human expression?

The humanities remain at the forefront of these questions. At Lake Forest College's Krebs Center for the Humanities we are shaping the future of the humanities through engagement with artificial intelligence. In October, 2023, techno-sociologist Zeynep Tufekci visited Lake Forest College for a discussion with Krebs Center Executive Director Davis Schneiderman about a world rapidly adjusting to everything from ChatGPT to big data to the power of the algorithm—and how the humanities might be the key to the future.

davis and zayneb discuss

The Krebs collection

krebs center archesLake Forest College Trustee Rob Krebs and his wife Anne spent many years visiting Europe, especially Italy, a country that has continually inspired their interest in art collecting. They amassed a stunning collection of medieval and early modern objects, reflecting a wide range of different media and origins. In addition to the focus on early modern European and Asian objects, the collection has a secondary focus on modern paintings, especially landscapes.  

European objects from the late Middle Ages and the early modern period constitute the core of the Krebs Center collection. These include paintings, sculpture, furniture, tapestry, and metalwork. Paintings from the Italian Renaissance and slightly later periods adorn many of the public rooms of the house, with the Madonna and Child (or Holy Family) a dominant theme. Greek and Russian icons constitute another area of focus. In addition, sculptural objects continue the religious theme in works made of marble, bronze, clay and other materials; many of these represent figures from the ancient world: gods, goddesses, and heroes. Renaissance and early modern furniture—chairs, tables, chests, etc.—fill the living spaces as well. 

Anne and Rob first began their collecting activity with American landscape paintings of the 20th century, and these works are represented in the collection. Because they previously lived in the Western half of the US, many of these paintings by American landscape artists record views of the West. In the house's bedrooms, a visitor will encounter vistas of Venice or Tuscany alongside images of American landscapes of rivers, farms, and forests. The collection also includes works from Asia, including statues of the Buddha, ceramics from Japan, and several works from Turkey, among others.  

A donation to support the humanities

krebs crestRob and Anne Krebs’ transformative donation of their Italianate home and art collection to Lake Forest College was more than a decade in the making. Through their visionary gift, they ensured that Lake Forest’s humanities community has a dedicated space. “It’s like going to an overseas campus, except students only have to travel about six blocks rather than fly to Europe,” Robert Krebs said. 

Creating a Center for the Humanities aligns with their goals for the home they designed and carefully furnished to accurately represent the Renaissance era. Immersing yourself in the humanities “makes you curious, makes you want to explore, and makes you appreciate [what others have created],” Robert said. “The humanities are a good foundation to build your life on. This home is a visual representation of that.”  

While the Center’s impressive collection emphasizes art, architecture, and furniture, the entire location is an attraction in and of itself. “We never started out thinking we were going to, in essence, build a museum. But then it turned out we actually did,” Robert Krebs said. “We thought it should be preserved,” Anne Krebs said of their gift to the College.  

kim casas with her artwork
The fact that all of this artwork is accessible to students to study feels like a once in a lifetime experience. It shows students that there is so much possibility within the humanities.
Kim Casas '24

Meet our team

Davis Schneiderman
Executive Director of the Krebs Center for the Humanities and Professor of English

Ann Roberts
James D. Vail Professor of Art History Emerita

Amy Roby
Krebs Center Assistant and Property Manager