New Director Is Named at the Yale Center for British Art
President Richard C. Levin has named Amy Meyers, curator of American Art at the Henry E. Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California, as director of the Yale University Center for British Art, and professor of the History of Art.
Meyers will serve as director for a term of five years, beginning September 1, 2002.
“It gives me the greatest pleasure to announce the appointment of Amy Meyers,” said Levin. “She has distinguished herself as an outstanding and imaginative leader in the field of research and a singularly adept administrator at some of the nation’s prominent museums, galleries and research centers. Her experience developing collections in all media and her involvement with the building of collaborative programs, not only regionally, but also nationally and internationally, auger well for her tenure here.”
Meyers’ appointment will be a homecoming. After receiving her B.A. from the University of Chicago, she did the graduate work for her 1985 Ph.D. in American Studies at Yale, where professors Howard Lamar, Jules Prown and Bryan Wolf advised her dissertation on Anglo-American and English Naturalists. Since then she has spent most of her time at research institutes, first as a graduate fellow at Dumbarton Oaks, then at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery, and for the past 13 years at the Huntington. At the latter she has been responsible for running the Virginia Steele Scott Gallery of American Art, a museum that also serves as a centerpiece for one of the most active research programs in the history of Anglo-American culture. She has helped to build up collections of art from the colonial period through the twentieth century, and she has been instrumental in formulating programs on the history of American art and material culture.
In concert with her colleagues, Meyers has encouraged cross-institutional dialogue about the history of trans-Atlantic culture that has extended to the faculty and student body of the California Institute of Technology, where she is an adjunct faculty member, and to other area colleges, universities, museums and research centers with which the Huntington has ongoing relationships. She was the Huntington’s representative in the Association of Research Institutes in the History of Art, for which she served as Vice Chair from 1995Ð2000.
The new director is a leading expert on naturalist illustrators, and her scholarship has focused on British interpreters of America. Among her publications are “Imposing Order on the Wilderness: Natural History Illustrations and Landscape Portrayal,” in “Views and Visions: American Landscape Painting, 1790Ð1830,” by Edward Nygren (The Corcoran Gallery, 1986); “The Perfecting of Natural History: Mark Catesby’s Drawings of North American Flora and Fauna in the Royal Library, Windsor Castle,” in Mark Catesby’s “Natural History of America: The Watercolors from the Royal Library, Windsor Castle, by Henrietta McBurney” (Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1997); and “Picturing a World in Flux: Mark Catesby’s Response to Environmental Interchange and Colonial Expansion,” in “Empire’s Nature: Mark Catesby’s New World Vision,” Amy Meyers and Margaret Pritchard eds. (Colonial Williamsburg and The Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, 1999). She is co-editor with Jennifer Watts of “A Life’s Work: Edward Weston’s Guggenheim Collection” (The Huntington), a catalogue in preparation for 2003, and of “Nexus of Exchange: Philadelphia and the Visual Culture of Natural History, 1740Ð1840” (The Huntington) to be published.
Among other publications to which Meyers has contributed are the Journal of American History, the New England Quarterly and the Chronicle of Higher Education. She has a lifelong interest in photography, and with Alan Trachtenberg, the Neil Gray, Jr., Professor of English at Yale, edited “Classic Essays on Photography” (Leete’s Island Books, 1980). Meyers will be joined in New Haven by her husband, Jack Meyers, who also is a Yale alumnus, and their daughter, Rachel. Mr. Meyers is the Deputy Director of the Getty Grant Program at the J. Paul Getty Trust.
The search committee was headed by Linda Peterson and included Yale faculty members and administrators, Tim Barringer, Richard Benson, Ned Cooke, Diana Kleiner, Jules Prown, Jock Reynolds, and Keith Wrightson. In making the announcement of the appointment, Levin also acknowledged with deep appreciation the help the committee had received from Constance Clement, acting director of the Center for British Art, and Malcolm Warner, curator of paintings and sculpture at the Center.