Rackham Auditorium

The Rackham Auditorium is a majestic, 1,040-seat hall featuring intricate Art Deco detailing, plush seating and a gold-leafed ceiling. Used primarily for conferences, lectures and chamber concerts, the Auditorium is located in the Rackham Building, notable for its own classical renaissance architecture.


Horace H. Rackham was a Detroit lawyer who believed strongly in the importance of the study of human history and thought. When he died in 1933, his will awarded the University of Michigan the funds to build not only the Horace H. Rackham Graduate School, which houses Rackham Auditorium, but also to establish a $4 million endowment to further the development of graduate studies. Even more remarkable than the magnanimous size of the gift is the fact that neither Horace nor this wife Mary ever attended the University of Michigan.

Designed in a classical renaissance style by architect William Kapp of the Detroit firm of Smith, Hinchman & Grylls, the Rackham Building is considered to be one of the historically significant buildings on campus.  The building also contains splendid conference rooms and a 240-seat amphitheatre.

Rackham Auditorium has been the site of many major occasions in the advancement of knowledge, with numerous notable lectures, academic symposia, and  scholarly papers presented in the sixty plus years since its opening. In addition, it is the favorite venue in the area for intimate musical performances, particularly chamber music, small ensembles, and world music.

Namesakes: Horace and Mary Rackham

Rackham Auditorium has its roots in Detroit’s auto industry.

Horace Rackham grew up on a farm in Macomb County, and Mary A. Horton was raised in Fenton in Genesee County. They married in 1886. Working as an attorney, Horace set up practice in Detroit, where in 1903 he filed the incorporation papers for Ford Motor Company. Founder Henry Ford could not afford to pay his attorney, but instead invited him to invest in his new car company. Within 15 years, as one of Ford’s initial investors, Horace Rackham was a millionaire several times over. He then made philanthropy his life’s work.

While the Rackhams did not have children, education was a priority for them. And while they had no connections to U-M, they began supporting the institution in 1922.

When Horace died in 1933 at age 75, his estate was valued at more than $14 million. His will established the Horace H. Rackham and Mary A. Rackham Fund. In 1935, the Rackham Fund donated $5 million to the U-M Graduate School, including $1 million for a new building.

The Rackham Building opened in 1938 and among its many features was a 1,200-seat lecture hall with outstanding acoustics. Mary Rackham made certain there was ample room between the rows of seats as a tribute to her late husband, who had complained about having cramped legs in performance halls and theaters.

Mary Rackham died in 1947 at age 83.

Technical Specifications

The information contained in these technical specifications has been updated to the best of our ability. Renters are advised to work with their local presenter and the venue to ensure a safe and smooth production. Shows with extensive lighting, audio, staging and rigging requirements are especially encouraged to either schedule a site visit or a phone conversation with venue staff or trained professionals who have handled similar shows in our halls.

Download technical information for Rackham Tech (PDF)

Venue Address

915 E. Washington
Ann Arbor, MI  48109-1070

Mailing Address

University Productions
128 Michigan League
911 N. University
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1265

Technical Specifications

Auditorium Seating Capacity

Main Floor: 1008
20 wheelchair & 20 companion: 40
Total capacity (including accessible seating) : 1048

Load-in Access

Via Washington St. up the front steps or the ramp. Limited Access.
Note – There is no loading dock. Only a door to the basement of the venue.

Stage Specifications

Semicircular Stage – 34’ x 20’ (at widest point)
Stage floor – maple parquet

Lighting System

House and stage lights are on standard dimmer switches. All lights are fixed position and focus.
Front of House – Twelve (12) ETC Source Four 575w Lekos
Over Stage – Thirteen (13) PAR 38 250w

Sound System

The hall has equipment adequate to provide audio support for most small conferences, lectures, and playback requirements.

One (1) Allen & Heath MixWizard 12 Channel

Playback Devices
One (1) Technics CD Player
One (1) Technics dual cassette deck

Two (2) Klipsch cabinets mounted over stage

Seven (7) Beyer dynamic microphones
Seven (7) straight microphone stands
Four (4) Shure wireless microphone, either lavalier or handheld

Projection Screen
Permanently hung on upstage wall with a curtain to cover when not needed.
Screen Dimensions – 16’w x 12’h
Height from floor to bottom edge – 9’
Distance from projection booth – 90’

Communication Systems

Headset System
One (1) Clear-Com KB-111 squawk box, in booth
Three (3) Clear-Com telephone handsets

Handset stations
Sound and light booth (located on second floor at back HR)
Center of backwall in auditorium
Behind column doors

Information System
Wired – Ethernet 1000 Base-T, located in box office, House Tech booth and various locations throughout the building. Advance arrangements required for access.

Wireless – U-M Wireless on-stage and in the auditorium and main lobby. Please refer to U-M IT for information regarding access.

Dressing Rooms

There are no laundry facilities in the building.

One Flight Below Stage Level:
One (1) Dressing Room, seating for 11 performers with adjoining bathrooms.

Miscellaneous Equipment

One (1) lectern
Two (2) 29” x 6’ tables
Two (2) 29” x 4’ tables
One (1) 2’ x 4’ black table
Twelve (12) matching upholstered armchairs
Twenty-Eight (28) music stands
Thirty (30) Wenger padded musicians chairs

Rental Rates

One (1) Day: $1,000.00
Rehearsal/Set-up: 50% of one-day rate

Events involving paid professional artists must be handled by an official University presenter. Additional costs and fees may apply.

Rental Policy

To initiate a reservation:
Renter must provide a non-refundable $100.00 deposit per day of rental, and return a signed confirmation letter, provided by the Scheduling Office.

60 days prior to the event:
Renters must disburse the entire base rent to the University Productions Scheduling Office. [For Non U-M Organizations only]

2 weeks prior to the event:
The signed contract must be returned to Scheduling Office.
Failure to meet any of these requirements will result in forfeiture of the date.

Cancellation Policy for Reservations and Contracted Events

  • Day of the Event: 100% of the rental fee will be charged.
    Less than 72 hours notice: For a Load-in day or lecture, a 30% cancellation fee of the day rate will be charged. For a Performance day, a 50% cancellation fee of the day rate will be charged.
    Less than 15 days notice: a $200.00 cancellation fee.
    Less than 60 days notice: a $150.00 cancellation fee.
    Earlier cancellations: A full refund of deposited funds, minus the non-refundable deposit.

Base Rent Includes

  • Use of the auditorium between 8am and 12am (midnight)
  • One house technician for 1 shift (8 hours)
  • One Lobby Supervisor and staff to function as ticket takers for ticketed events
  • HVAC, custodial, open & close of theatre
  • Use of box office and reception room during rental period
  • Technical equipment as outlined in the Technical Specifications
  • One Lectern and microphones

Additional Charges to Base Rent Include

  • Overtime hours for building: $250.00/hour
  • 2nd shift House Technician: $35/hour – charged in 4 hour blocks
  • Additional House Tech (as needed): $35/hour – charged in 4 hour blocks
  • Additional Lobby staff for receptions/perfs as needed: $35/hour – charged in 4 hour blocks
  • Piano – per arrangement with Randy Bibri, SMTD, (734) 764-6207
  • Security – (as required by Public Safety) as per arrangements with Public Safety
  • Changes to Access times less than 24 hours in advance will be subject to double-time rates for affected personnel

Rates as of September 2023


Our performance facilities follow policies set by the Regents at the University of Michigan. Please refer to the general policies as well as policies specific to the venue you are interested in renting


  1. Smoking is PROHIBITED in all University buildings and on University grounds. Smoking is allowed on sidewalks adjacent to public roads.
  2. No alcoholic beverages are to be consumed within the building pursuant to University regulations.
  3. No pets of any kind are permitted within the building. Any use of an animal in a production must be approved in advance by the Office of the Vice President for Facilities via the Facilities Manager.
  4. There will be no food or beverages allowed in the theatres/auditoria at any time. University Productions retains the sole right to concession sales in the facilities.
  5. Upon the discretion of the Facilities Manager, security shall be provided, at Lessee’s expense, through the Department of Public Safety (DPSS). The number of such personnel shall be determined based on the nature of the proposed event, the number anticipated to be in attendance, and the past experience of the University with respect to similar events. University Productions reserves the option of alerting DPSS when, in our judgment, a higher level of security might be necessary.
  6. According to Section 3.06 of the Bylaws of the Regents of the University of Michigan, the following activities are prohibited in places of public assembly:
    Donations/Solicitations of Funds/Taking of Pledges
    Selling of Memberships
  7. Items for sale at events are allowed at the discretion of University Productions, and only upon completion of a Sales Permit. This sales permit acknowledges the Lessee’s obligation to pay Sales Tax to the State of Michigan.
  8. No live flame of any kind is allowed in any theatre at any time for any reason without the advance permission of the Fire Marshal. This prohibition includes the representation of smoking by actors, candles, oil lamps, torches, incense, effects requiring explosive charges, and fireworks. The Fire Marshal’s permission may or may not be granted depending upon the safety infrastructure of the theatre being requested, the duration of the effect, and its risk of combusting nearby materials. Live trees, garlands, and wreaths are not permitted in places of public assembly due to their flammability hazard. Flame-proofed materials must be used in the construction of scenery or draperies. Please be advised that the University’s fire-safety regulations are strictly enforced.
  9. Due to the sensitivity of building smoke detectors, the use of foggers and hazers in the Power Center, Hill Auditorium or the Arthur Miller Theatre must be scheduled in advance and receive the prior permission of University Productions. The use of fog/haze is prohibited in the Mendelssohn Theatre and Rackham Auditorium. There will be additional charges associated with the use of this effect. Please be aware that sometimes smoke and haze drifts to smoke detectors outside of the stage area and may set off the building’s fire-alarm system. Even in the case of “false” alarms, the theatre must be evacuated by all audience and backstage personnel until DPSS has authorized re-entry into the building and the re-commencement of the program.
  10. Exit signs may not be turned off, covered, removed or altered in any way. All exits must remain clear of blockage by any scenery, props, seating or other objects while the theatre is occupied. Audio/visual, lighting, and sound equipment must be kept out of aisles and out of the seating areas that are designated for patrons using wheelchairs, in compliance with accessibility codes.
  11. The use of confetti and glitter is prohibited due to the difficulty of cleaning the plush seating and carpeting. Unauthorized use will be subject to extra custodial charges.
  12. In Rackham Auditorium, the piano lift cannot be used as a Stage Extension.
  13. In Rackham and Hill Auditoriums, no activity is allowed that would scuff or damage the stage floors.
  14. No construction or painting is allowed in the theatre other than that which is required to install previously constructed scenery, properties, or lighting equipment into the theatre. When construction or painting is necessary, precautions must be taken to prevent damage to the theatre and its contents. There is to be no affixing of anything to walls and draperies by screws, nails or tape anywhere inside or outside the building without express permission from University Productions. For Hill and Rackham Auditoriums, no nails, screws or related fasteners are to be inserted into the walls, floors, or other parts of the theatre.
  15. Wheelchair-accessible spaces must be held for physically-challenged patrons until one hour before the start of a performance, or until such time as all other permanent seats are sold out. These spaces should be sold on a “first-come, first-served” basis, and these requests should include the space for the companion seat, as requested by the ticket purchaser.
  16. Inevitably, matters will arise which are not covered by these general rules. The Backstage Operations Manager and Lobby Supervisor are the final on-site arbitrators of fire, safety, and accessibility regulations. Should a dispute arise about the interpretation of such codes, University Productions’ personnel’s interpretations of the rules shall be enforced until the appropriate code specialists can be consulted.

Hill Auditorium – Mendelssohn Theatre – Power Center – Rackham Auditorium – Arthur Miller Theatre

  1. The University will provide the facility heated, lighted, and clean. If Lessee cannot provide accurate access times for use at least two weeks ahead of time, then the University cannot guarantee that the building will be clean upon arrival. Rental time includes all set-up and strike time. Rental time is charged from the point that personnel, whether it be the University Productions House Technician or a member of the Lessee’s staff, enter the theatre until the time all personnel leave the theatre. If it is necessary for a staff member of University Productions to remain after the Lessee has left in order to return the theatre to its original condition, the Lessee shall be charged for this time as part of its rental.
  2. In order to accommodate many users, the theatre may be occupied by the Lessee only at times that have been previously arranged and agreed upon by both parties. It is at the discretion of the Facilities Manager to accommodate last-minute change-of-access requests.
  3. University Productions will provide the house electrics, including control board, lighting instruments, cables, and pipes which are its permanent equipment. The renting group has use of all lighting, stage, and sound equipment that is part of the theatre’s inventory at the time of their rental. Chargeable items are listed on the rate schedule.
  4. A House Technician assigned by University Productions shall be in attendance whenever the theatre is occupied. This individual will be responsible for securing the theatre, adjacent spaces, and their contents, and for the maintenance of house equipment. An additional technician at extra charge may be required if additional technical work is necessary. University Productions retains the right to determine if extra technicians are required.
  5. Lessee will provide its own scenery, costumes, properties, musical instruments, miscellaneous equipment, and any tools necessary for their installation and removal. Lessee is also responsible for providing its own stage staff and crew.
  6. Lessee will provide its own programs, tickets, ushers, and box office staff. With the exception of the Arthur Miller and Mendelssohn Theatres where we do not provide ticket takers, University Productions will provide ticket takers and a Lobby Supervisor for your event.
  7. Deliveries of scenery, lighting equipment, programs and musical instruments, such as pianos, shall be made within the rental period. The Facilities Manager will require advance notification of any deviation from this policy and will attempt to accommodate deviations if possible. Costs may be assigned depending upon required staffing, use of the stage lift or adverse effects upon other tenants. It is agreed that the facility will be vacated promptly of all personnel and equipment after the final performance unless Lessee rents an additional load-out day or is able to reach an agreement with University Productions.
  8. Lessee will leave the facility clean and deposit all discarded trash in proper receptacles. Extra cleaning required to put the theatre back in condition for the next tenant will be billed to the Lessee. Lessee agrees to pay costs associated with extraordinary custodial cleaning at University Productions’ sole discretion.
  9. Lessee shall be responsible for all damage to, or misappropriation of, the premises or any part thereof, including contents and furnishings of any building, and shall pay and reimburse the University for any such loss or damage.
  10. University Productions will not be responsible for losses incurred by the Lessee due to failure of systems operated by the University (i.e. Heat, Water, Air Conditioning).
  11. (For Non-University Lessees) Lessee shall provide a certificate of insurance evidencing general liability, owned and non-owned auto liability, and workers’ compensation with limits acceptable to the University’s Risk Management office. Lessee shall notify the Risk Management office as soon as practical of any claim or potential claim arising out of this activity.
  12. (For Non-University lessees) Lessee agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the University of Michigan, its Regents, Directors, Officers and employees for any claim that may arise due to the negligence of Lessee.
  13. Willful failure to follow any of the listed conditions and rules may result in the renting group being evicted from the theatre.

If you have questions regarding these policies, please contact:

Shannon Rice
Facilities Manager
(734) 647-3327
[email protected]

Contact Us

All inquiries may be mailed to:
University Productions
911 N. University
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1265

If you have rental questions or would like to rent one of our facilities, please contact:
Shannon Rice
Facilities Manager
(734) 647-3327
[email protected]

If you have questions regarding the technical specifications of Hill Auditorium, Power Center for the Performing Arts, Rackham Auditorium, or the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre, please contact :
Dane Racicot
(734) 764-5553
[email protected]