General Education Centre is a prime institution of AMU, functioning as the cultural hub of students activities since the early 50s.Initially the Centre was located in the premises of Sir Syed Hall along with other departments of studies and university administrative offices , including the VC's office and the Registrar's Office.
In 1958, during the tenure of Col. Bashir Husain Zaidi, the then AMU Vice-Chancellor, a proposal of new building for General Education Centre, under the funding from the 'Ford Foundation' USA, was conceived and approved.
Prof. Moonis Raza, who was also the Coordinator of GEC (1962-64) communicated the concept and idea of General Education Centre building to Joseph Stein , the famous architect (architect of 'India International Centre' and the 'India Habitat Centre', New Delhi) to design the building in a unique style. The construction of Kennedy Hall , where the GEC is now located - began in 1959 and completed in the year 1962. 'Pen Workers' a famous company of Mumbai (erstwhile Bombay) furnished the building. Abdul Jabbar Khan, the then University Engineer, supervised the civil works of the structure.
The concept behind the construction of Kennedy House buildings
The vision behind the unique designing was
The entrance head plaque (Mural)of this building was crafted by legendary artiste, Late M.F Husain with his own hands in 1967. This is the only mural of M.F Husain ever. Other legendry artists like A.K Gujral and Sadiqain have also gifted their master pieces to the GEC art gallery.
Kennedy Hall Auditorium
Named after the charismatic leader and 35th President of United State- John F Kennedy, this multipurpose structure is used for organizing University functions, cultural events, theatre activities, running films shows , as well as holding National/International Conferences and lectures of eminent personalities, etc. This auditorium with a seating capacity of approximately 1359 persons, is also the largest auditorium in any Central University in India.
The auditorium is equipped with state of the art-stage most suitable for theatrical and musical performances. The auditorium is designed to provide an unusually high level of visual and aural activity. The hexagonal form and steeply dished floor, the shallow under balcony space are all devices for providing a maximum number of good seats. The stage is large (35' x 60' proscenium) and there is space for scenery both at the wings and in a stage loft. Dressing rooms, two green rooms (open air and enclosed) rehearsal room and work rooms complete the auditorium facilities. The auditorium also has the distinction to posses two revolving stages.
The auditorium's projector room is fitted with two RCA 35 MM Film Projectors, along with a giant 800 sq ft. movable Cinema Scope screen installed at the stage. It is only functional solid state projector and movable cinema screen of India.
Kennedy Hall VIP Room
Attached with the auditorium is a VIP Room, and VIP corridor along with two makeup rooms to make it more functional and esthetically more suitable to its very purpose.
Rare Collections of Music records, Films and Documentaries
The GEC has rare collection of 884 gramophone records including, Clay Records of some music greats including the first ever record made in India, that of Kumar Gandharva, K.L Saigal, D.V Pulasker, Kanan Devi, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Noor Jahan, Surayya, Ustad Allah Rakha Khan , Bismillah Khan, Ustad Faiyaz Khan and many other legends of Classical Vocal and instrumental music. There are 85 LP and 20 EP records in other Indian languages, viz, Bengali, Assamese, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Punjabi. Twenty five records in this collection are of Western classical music, including rare collection of waltz.
Rare Collection of films & documentaries
The GEC also has rare collection of 4 full length feature films on cellulite film strips:
90 minutes Feature Film on the life of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan.60 minutes documentary on Allama Iqbal by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas.40 minute documentary on AMU (in English & Hindi)60 minute documentary on the life of Shaikh Abdullah 'Papa Mian'
Future Plan: The efforts are underway to preserve these rare records and films in digital format for wider circulation and utility.