What to do at Yale over the holidays: galleries, libraries, and more

Yale is in recess, but open for fun — learn how and where you can enjoy some of the best of the university during the holidays.
The New Haven Green with its lit Christmas tree

(Photo credit: Michael Marsland)

Yale is in recess Dec. 24-Jan. 2, but open for fun as of Dec. 26. The holiday season is a good time to explore the many artistic and cultural treasures at Yale — most of them free of charge.

Here are some of the many galleries, museums and libraries that you can visit leading in to the new year.

Galleries and museums

Yale Center for British Art

View the largest and most comprehensive collection of British art outside of the United Kingdom at the Yale Center for British Art (YCBA). Works on view include masterpieces by Joshua Reynolds, George Stubbs, Thomas Gainsborough, J.M.W. Turner, and John Constable, as well as major artists from Europe and America who lived and worked in Britain.

Free. Regular hours resume Dec. 26. (Closed Dec. 24-25.) Receive 10% off at the YCBA museum gift shop through Dec. 31 as part of its Holiday Cheer promotion.

Yale University Art Gallery

The Yale University Art Gallery houses African art, American decorative arts, ancient art, and European art collections as well as special exhibitions, including “William Bailey: Looking through Time” and “Place, Nations, Generations, Beings: 200 Years of Indigenous North American Art.”

Free. Regular hours resume Dec. 26. (Closed Dec. 24-25.)

Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History

Take a trip into the past by visiting the Peabody Museum of Natural History’s permanent collection, which provides a record of the history of the Earth, its life, and its cultures. Also, explore the temporary exhibitions “Seeing Nature Through Art” and “Ancient Mesopotamia Speaks.” Dec. 31 is the last day to see the museum’s iconic Great Hall of Dinosaurs and Mammal Hall before they are closed for renovations until 2023.

Admission: $6-$13; free with Yale ID. Regular hours resume Dec. 26. (Closed Dec. 24-25.)


Sterling Memorial Library

Visit one of Yale’s most prominent buildings and the largest of all the Yale libraries. Completed in 1930, Sterling Memorial Library was named for its benefactor, John William Sterling (Yale Class of 1864). The library currently houses approximately 2.5 million volumes on 16 floors of book stacks, as well as numerous departments, reading rooms, and exhibits.

Free. Limited holiday hours start Dec. 26. (Closed Dec. 24-25.) Visit the Sterling Memorial Library website for hours and more information.

Bass Library

The newly renovated Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Library is the starting point for research support and library instruction for all of Yale College, as well as a popular student workspace. Through its staff, services, and a print collection of 61,000 volumes, Bass Library supports the Yale curriculum across every subject area.

Free. Limited holiday hours start Dec. 26. (Closed Dec. 24-25.) Visit the Bass library website for hours and more information.

Cushing/Whitney Medical Library

Browse the brains at the Cushing Center, which includes more than 400 specimen jars of brains and tumors, surgical illustrations, patient photographs, and memorabilia, as well as historical anatomical and medical materials.

Free. During the Winter Recess the library will only be open on Friday, Dec. 27 and Monday, Dec. 30, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on each day. Visit the Cushing Center website for full hours and more information.

Shopping and dining

The Shops at Yale features more than 80 unique boutiques, retailers, eateries, restaurants, theaters, and more in the heart of downtown New Haven.

Hours vary by location. Find a full list of events, sales, and promotions as well as directions and parking information at the Shops at Yale website.

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