Amy Meyers to retire in 2019 as director of the Yale Center for British Art

Amy Meyers
Amy Meyers

Amy Meyers, director of the Yale Center for British Art (YCBA) and CEO of the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art (PMC) in London, will retire on June 30, 2019, President Peter Salovey has announced.

“Under her leadership, the YCBA has become one of the foremost destinations in the world for the study of British art and culture and an invaluable resource for the Yale and New Haven communities. Since her appointment in 2002, Amy has cemented the YCBA’s reputation as a world-class center for research and education,” Salovey noted in his announcement.

Meyers created the center’s Research Division, supported by major grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and developed a post-doctoral research associate program, bringing young scholars in the field of British art to work at the center from around the globe. Each year, the YCBA convenes significant symposia and conferences and attracts hundreds of scholars to use the center’s incomparable collections. The 2014 “Figures of Empire: Slavery and Portraiture in Eighteenth-Century Atlantic Britain” included interviews, an interactive online presentation, and lectures and discussions across campus, in addition to an international conference convened in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition. This year’s “Enlightened Princesses: Caroline, Augusta, Charlotte, and the Shaping of the Modern World,” organized by the Historic Royal Palaces and the YCBA, debuted in New Haven during the spring semester and opens at Kensington Palace later this month. The exhibit features over 300 works from nearly 50 collections and a book of essays with contributions from an international team of scholars — “reflecting Meyer’s gift for building relationships across institutional and national borders,” Salovey said.

“In one of her greatest and most enduring contributions to the YCBA, Amy oversaw the magnificent conservation — and revitalization — of the building designed by architect Louis Kahn for the center’s collections,” Salovey continued. “With meticulous attention to Kahn’s design and a marvelous vision for the future, Amy guided the completion of the three-phase building conservation project, the most comprehensive to date. These efforts ensure that the center’s outstanding collections, which have grown exponentially under her leadership, have a home befitting their place in the world of art and art history — a brilliant legacy for the future.”

Through interdisciplinary exhibitions and programs — from landscape painting to portraiture, from the creativity of 16th-century naturalists to the imagination of modern pop artists— Meyers also worked to open the doors of the center to larger and more diverse audiences, and increased connections between the YCBA and the local community, noted Salovey. The center also hosts a variety of programs for children, families, senior citizens, special-needs youth, and K-12 teachers. Since reopening last May, the center has seen an increase in attendance of over 30 percent compared to the same period in 2014.

To extend the center’s collections more broadly to the world, Meyers has been a strong advocate for Yale’s new free-and-open access policy to online collections. She supported the electronic cataloguing of the YCBA’s entire art collection in high-resolution form. She also positioned the YCBA to become the first museum to adopt the international technology framework that now allows the world’s leading museums and libraries to share their resources together on the web. She has supported the creation of the new electronic journal, British Art Studies, published collaboratively by the YCBA and the PMC. She has been committed to making these sister institutions the most active publishers in the field of British art, producing their award-winning books in partnership with the Yale University Press London.

In addition, Meyers has helped make the YCBA even more integral to the Yale community, annually hosting special events for freshman orientation, receptions for incoming faculty and graduate students, and the Senior Class party, as well as countless receptions and dinners following scholarly events and performances. Over 2,000 students and faculty members from Yale have come to utilize the institution’s resources each year. The Student Guide Program, which allows Yale undergraduates to work closely with the collections and gain invaluable museum experience, and the student-curated Art in Focus exhibition exemplify Meyer’s commitment to making the center a vibrant, fully integrated part of the university.

“Amy has brought indefatigable energy and optimism to her role as director,” Salovey said. “She plans to complete important projects both here and in London before her retirement. I have no doubt that she will bring her characteristic passion and determination to these tasks. At the appropriate time, we will initiate an international search for her successor, and Amy will work closely with me and Provost Ben Polak to ensure a smooth transition. In the months ahead, we will have many occasions to celebrate Amy’s incredible tenure at the YCBA.”

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