Yale Center for British Art to close next year for interior conservation

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The fourth-floor galleries of the Yale Center for British Art. (Photo by Richard Caspole)

In January 2015, the Yale Center for British Art will close for a year to implement the second phase of the interior conservation of its landmark building, designed by Louis I. Kahn (1901–1974). When complete, the renovation will allow the center’s renowned collection of more than five centuries of British art to be experienced in the building as Kahn originally envisioned it, and will bring vital systems, spaces, and amenities within the center to state-of-the-art standards.

While the center undergoes this transformation, works from the collection will be presented across Chapel Street at the recently expanded Yale University Art Gallery, from March 6 to July 26, 2015, in “The Critique of Reason: Romantic Art, 1760–1860,” the first major exhibition to be co-organized by the gallery and the center. Additional highlights from the center will be integrated into the European displays at the gallery, allowing British art to be seen in a broader context. Following standard practice, the center also will lend works to exhibitions at a number of other institutions, including the Hôtel de Caumont, Aix-en-Provence; Minneapolis Institute of Arts; Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach; San Diego Museum of Art; Art Institute of Chicago; Brooklyn Museum; and Wallace Collection, London.

Given the complexity and scope of the renovation — which will focus on the refurbishment of all public galleries and the lecture hall, and improvements to accessibility, fire prevention systems, and patron amenities, as well as extensive mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and telecommunications upgrades — the Kahn building will be closed to the public from Jan. 1, 2015, through early February 2016. During this period, the center will be committed to preserving access to its resources for patrons on a limited basis, contingent on the construction schedule. By special advance arrangement, students, scholars, and interested members of the public will be able to gain access to the reference library and to works from the Prints & Drawings and Rare Books & Manuscripts collections in the study room. The Museum Shop, which will be open from Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm, and on Sunday from noon to 5 pm, will be accessible via its High Street entrance. The center will continue to offer public and education programs at other venues. Information will be available on the center’s website at calendar.yale.edu/cal/ycba.

“This second phase of our building conservation project allows us to refresh public spaces, including the galleries and lecture hall, and to make important behind-the-scenes improvements. We are taking advantage of this opportunity to rethink the installation of our magnificent collection, as well. This will include the reconfiguration of the Long Gallery on the fourth floor, bringing it back to Louis Kahn’s original conception as a study gallery, as well as the addition of a much needed, adjacent collections seminar room,” said director Amy Meyers.

When the center reopens in February 2016, its collection of paintings and sculpture, largely the gift of the institution’s founder, Paul Mellon (Yale College Class of 1929), will be completely reinstalled in the sky-lit galleries on the fourth floor and in the galleries on the second floor. Also, an exhibition featuring a significant new gift of modern British paintings, sculpture, and works on paper from the collection of Rhoda Pritzker, donated by the Libra Foundation, from the family of Nicholas and Susan Pritzker, will be on view in the third-floor galleries.

For this project and earlier building conservation projects, the center has benefitted from the expertise and dedication of its partners in the Office of Yale Facilities; Knight Architecture LLC, New Haven; Peter Inskip + Peter Jenkins Architects, London; and Turner Construction Company; as well as the talents and work of numerous other collaborators.

Further information about the building conservation project may be found online at britishart.yale.edu/bcp.

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