From the Director

Director Amy Meyers, fourth-floor gallery, looking over the Library Court, photograph by Michael Marsland

Dear Friends,

I hope that you had the opportunity to enjoy our tremendously successful spring exhibition, Enlightened Princesses: Caroline, Augusta, Charlotte, and the Shaping of the Modern World. The result of a splendid collaboration between the Center and Historic Royal Palaces, the display assembled objects from over forty institutions and private collections from around the globe, including more than eighty works from the Royal Collection, generously lent by Her Majesty the Queen. Both the exhibition and spectacular publication received magnificent reviews on both sides of the Atlantic, and we were thrilled to welcome over twenty-six thousand visitors to the Center while it was on view. On June 22, Enlightened Princesses will open at Kensington Palace, London, exploring the lives and influence of these three royal women on the very grounds they once occupied. I am delighted to announce the acquisition of the magnificent work by Yinka Shonibare MBE (RA), entitled Mrs Pinkney and the Emancipated Birds of South Carolina, which was created specially for the exhibition. Inspired by a meeting, in 1753, between Princess Augusta and Mrs. Eliza Lucas Pinckney, owner of a slave plantation in the then-British colony, the work will be on view at Kensington Palace before returning to the Center.

In April, we commemorated the fortieth anniversary of the Center with a public celebration. A special display of rarely seen archival materials provided an intimate glimpse into the highly anticipated opening of the institution in 1977, as well as the remarkable vision of our founder, Paul Mellon (Yale College, Class of 1929). Continuing the celebration of this important anniversary throughout the summer, our special exhibition A Decade of Gifts and Acquisitions will feature works given to or purchased by the Center in recent years, including selections from the last of Mr. Mellon’s gifts to the institution.

At this historic moment, we are delighted to announce that the American Institute of Architects has conferred on Knight Architecture LLC this year’s AIA Institute Honor Award for Architecture in recognition of the firm’s work on the Center’s recent building conservation project. We consider our building, an iconic modern structure designed by Louis Kahn, to be the largest and most complex object in our collection, and we are extraordinarily proud of the work of Knight Architecture in preserving the building’s distinctive architectural character.

We are pleased to note that several academic projects undertaken by Center staff and fellows recently have received awards. Painting in Britain, 1500–1630: Production, Influences, and Patronage, edited by Edward Town, Head of Collections Information and Access, and Assistant Curator of Early Modern Art at the Center, with Tarnya Cooper, Aviva Burnstock, and Maurice Howard, was honored with the Book Award for Multi-Author Publications for 2015 by the Historians of British Art. The publication is the result of a partnership among the Center, Yale’s Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage, and the National Portrait Gallery, London, which combines the technical examination of early modern panel paintings with new research into the attribution of the pictures, identity of the sitters, and provenance of the paintings, allowing their stories to be told anew with an unprecedented richness and complexity. British Art Studies, the online, open-access, peer-reviewed journal published three times a year in collaboration with our colleagues at the Paul Mellon Center for Studies in British Art, London, was selected to receive this year’s gold-level Media & Technology MUSE Award by the American Alliance of Museums. We are delighted that Dame Gillian Beer, former Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Senior Visiting Scholar, was awarded the Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism for her recent publication, Alice in Space: The Sideways Victorian World of Lewis Carroll, much of which was written during her time at the Center.

In this issue of the calendar we acknowledge with gratitude those benefactors who presented gifts to the Center in 2016, and we list acquisitions made with the endowment established for the institution by Paul Mellon as well as funds donated to us by our Friends. Earlier this year, we were saddened by the passing of Samuel Lurie, a longtime friend and benefactor of the Center. He and his wife Gabrielle have given over fifty works of art to the Center, and their collection was featured in an exhibition in 2010, The Independent Eye: Contemporary British Art from the Collection of Samuel and Gabrielle Lurie. The legacy of Mr. Lurie’s dedication to the Center will endure, as the couple’s splendid collection lives on in our galleries.

With great pride, we announce that Kraig Binkowski, our Chief Librarian, was awarded the Distinguished Alumnus Award by the School of Library and Information Science at Wayne State University. We congratulate Sarah Welcome, who has assumed the position of Assistant Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts after serving for nearly ten years as a curatorial assistant. We welcome with pleasure Abbie Kundishora, Conservation Assistant, and Bayla Laks, Curatorial Assistant in the Department of Prints and Drawings. While we will miss our colleague Gillian Forrester, Senior Curator of Prints and Drawings, tremendously, we extend our very best wishes to her in her new role as Senior Curator of Historic Fine Art at the Whitworth Art Gallery at the University of Manchester, United Kingdom. We bid farewell to Robin Hoffman, Assistant Curator and Assistant Head of Publications, who will be moving to Chicago with her family after four years of superb contributions to the Center. We also say goodbye to Tyler Griffith, Postdoctoral Research Associate, thanking him for his excellent work on Enlightened Princesses, and wishing him success in his future endeavors. We thank Associate Dean Susan Cahan, Yale College Dean for the Arts, for her for her many years of dedicated partnership with the Center. She has been a wonderful collaborator and an important link to undergraduates. We wish her well in her new role as Dean, Tyler School of Art.

This summer, we welcome to the Center seven New Haven Promise Scholars. This is the third year in which the Center is participating in this important initiative, which offers internships that allow graduates of New Haven public schools to gain experience in various museum departments. In June, the Center will again participate in New Haven’s annual International Festival of Arts & Ideas, hosting several public lectures including talks by Yale history professors Tim Snyder and Paul Freedman, as well as our eleventh annual Children’s Film Festival.

We thank you for your continued loyalty to the Center, and we hope to see you throughout the summer!

Warm regards,

Amy Meyers
Director, Yale Center for British Art