Overview & History


The mission of Spiva Center for the Arts is to celebrate the creative experience.

At Spiva we do this by:

  • promoting the arts
    • showcasing visual, literary, and performing arts
  • nurturing creative expression
    • offering a myriad of classes and programs to excite and involve students of all ages
  • stimulating and educating diverse audiences within the four-state region
    • featuring exhibits in three galleries year-round

Our History

The Zelleken House

4th & Sergeant

Zelleken House - George A. Spiva Center for the Arts

The Zelleken House was built in 1893 by Edward Zelleken. He died in 1920 and left the house to his daughter. The Ozark Artists Guild opened an art center there in 1958.

Photo: "The World's Greatest Zinc and Lead District",1907

Missouri Southern State University

Missouri Southern State University - George A. Spiva Center for the Arts

In 1967 Spiva Art Center moved to the Fine Arts Building at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, Mo.

Cosgrove Building

3rd & Wall

Current location of Spiva Center for the Arts

George A. Spiva

George A. Spiva StatueOriginally incorporated as the Ozark Artists Guild, George A. Spiva Center for the Arts has presented visual arts experiences to the four-state region since 1947.

George A. Spiva—businessman, philanthropist, and lover of the arts—helped establish Joplin’s first art center in 1958. Founded on the belief that opportunities in the arts should be available to all, the Center continues to flourish through the generosity of members and friends who share that vision.

First located in the Zelleken House at 4th & Sergeant, Spiva moved to the campus of Missouri Southern State University before relocating to its current home in the historic Cosgrove Building at 3rd and Wall in downtown Joplin.

George A. Spiva sitting

George A. Spiva and a child fishing near Joplin