Since the founding of the Yale University Art Gallery in 1832—nearly 40 years before the Metropolitan Museum of Art—the institution has amassed a vast collection of more than 200,000 objects, ranging from African masks and Roman antiquities to works by Picasso and Richard Serra.
“Jock Reynolds, the director of the Yale University Art Gallery, likes to say that when he took over in 1998, the collection — the oldest and one of the most important university art collections in the country — had grown so large that its landmark Louis Kahn building resembled an “old sock drawer”,” writes The New York Times. “The museum could show only a small fraction of its holdings, and some works had been in storage so long that even the curators had never seen them. Beyond campus few people knew that there was a world-class encyclopedic art museum in New Haven, of all places, just an hour and a half from New York.
Almost as soon as he arrived here Mr. Reynolds set out to transform his stretch of Chapel Street at the urging of Yale’s president, Richard C. Levin. He planned a renovation of all three buildings that would restore the older ones, which had long since been put to other uses, to their original purpose as gallery space.
The Kahn makeover, by Duncan Hazard and Richard Olcott of Ennead Architects in New York, was finished in 2006. Work began on the two others in 2009, and the entire refurbished complex — a block-and-a-half-long stretch that is itself a museum of changing architectural styles — is scheduled to open officially on Wednesday, a few months after visitors began being admitted to the galleries as they were completed.
While all the work was going on Mr. Reynolds and his staff were also busy acquiring yet more art, much of it reflecting a broader range of cultures than the core Yale collection, to fill additional space made possible by the renovations. There is a brand-new collection of Indo-Pacific art, for example, and a new curator, Ruth Barnes, hired away from the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, to look after it.
The collections of African art and the art of the ancient Americas have also been expanded. Newly on display as well are lots of works from the old collection, like paintings by Corot, Degas and Rothko, that there was never room to show before. The American decorative arts collection now includes a restored parlor from an 18th-century house in Gilead, Conn., that used to be just numbered boards in a Yale storage barn. ”
Read on at The New York Times.
Photo Credit: Bruce Buck for The New York Times