Culture & Lab Life

In the earliest days of Fermilab, lab staff and spouses of lab staff members sought to create a rich cultural environment at the lab to make the environment more appealing to lab staff and users. In later years, the lab also organized cultural events for members of the public in the communities around the lab.

Arts and Lecture Series

Fermilab's founding director, Robert R. Wilson, considered an auditorium essential for sharing new experimental and theoretical information to the international scientific community. He also wanted the auditorium to foster a university-type environment at Fermilab by offering cultural events lab employees and users could experience with members of surrounding communities. The first performance in the auditorium was by the Fine Arts Quartet in 1972. The Fermilab Auditorium Committee was established in 1974 with Arthur Roberts as Committee Chair. While Ramsey Auditorium was used for some cultural events prior to the establishment of the Arts and Lecture Series, the first official Arts and Lecture Series season was the 1974 to 1975 season.

Employee Art Shows

Fermilab held its first employee art show on April 16 and 17, 1969 in the cafeteria in the lab’s Village. Since then, the lab has held employee art shows regularly, first in the Village cafeteria, in the Central Laboratory (Wilson Hall) atrium starting in 1974, and later in the Fermilab Art Gallery on the second floor of Wilson Hall.

Clubs and Organizations

Fermilab has hosted a wide variety of clubs and other organizations for lab employees and users and their families.


The National Accelerator Laboratory Recreation Committee existed by January 1970. This committee organized many of the lab's recreational activities, including a "Family Picnic" and the "Taste of Fermilab." For many years it was a center of social life at the lab. NALREC dissolved in the late 1990s. These articles describe some of the activities NALREC sponsored.


The National Accelerator Laboratory Women's Organization was created to provide social events for the families of visiting scientists. Jane Wilson, the wife of the lab's first director, was its first honorary chairman, and its meetings date back to at least 1968. The organization worked closely with the lab's Guest Office to welcome the families of new staff and visitors. Around 2015, it began describing itself as the lab's "community organization" rather than the lab's "women's organization."

Users Center and Chez Léon

The Users Center in the Village has been a center of social life at the lab since its establishment in 1973. Leon Lederman, who at the time was a user at the lab, was one of the main forces behind its establishment in the old Village cafeteria. The lab's small restaurant, Chez Léon, opened in the Users Center in April 1979. It was named after Lederman, who was then director designate. Tita Jensen served as the restaurant's chef from its opening until her retirement in 2008. In 2016, the lab established the Frontier Pub in the Users Center.