The Yale Center for British Art is embarking on the second phase of the interior conservation of its landmark building, designed by architect Louis I. Kahn. Upon the project’s completion, visitors will experience the Center’s renowned collection of more than five centuries of British art in the building as Kahn originally envisioned with vital systems, spaces, and amenities within state-of-the-art standards. This endeavor follows the successful completion of the first phase of the project, which occurred in the summer and fall of 2013.
The second phase of the project will take place beginning January 2015. It will focus on the refurbishment of all public galleries and the Lecture Hall. The renovations will include a reconfiguration of the Long Gallery on the fourth floor, the addition of a collections seminar room and improvements to accessibility, fire prevention systems, and patron amenities, as well as mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and telecommunications upgrades.
The Louis I. Kahn building will be closed to the public from January 1, 2015, through early February 2016. Visitors will have limited access to the building. By special advance arrangement, students, scholars, and interested members of the public will be able to gain access to Center. In addition, the Yale University Art Gallery and the Yale Center for British Art will co-organize their first major joint exhibition, The Critique of Reason: Romantic Art, 1790–1860, which will be on display at the Gallery from March 6 to July 26, 2015.
In the first phase of the conservation project, the Center’s Study Room and work spaces of the departments of Prints & Drawings and Rare Books & Manuscripts were restored to pristine condition in 2013.
Led by George Knight (Yale MArch 1995) of Knight Architecture LLC, Yale’s Office of Facilities, and Turner Construction Company, the first phase of the project replaced worn carpeting and discolored wall linen and renewed millwork that was soiled and bleached from the sun. In order to accommodate the Center’s growing collections, new storage units were fabricated to replicate the original white oak cases. Additionally, some office spaces were reconfigured to suit the needs of the expanded departments more effectively. Technological improvements were undertaken, and code and life-safety issues were addressed.
This project is guided by the publication of Louis I. Kahn and the Yale Center for British Art: A Conservation Plan (2011) by Peter Inskip and Stephen Gee, in association with Constance Clement, the Center’s deputy director. The conservation plan—the first of its kind in the United States—is the result of nearly a decade of research and sets forth a series of policies that identify significant features of the building that must be protected and others that might be changed.
When the Center reopens in February 2016, the renowned collection of British art, largely the gift of Paul Mellon (Yale College Class of 1929), will be completely reinstalled in the stunning sky-lit galleries on the fourth floor and in the beautiful 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 elegant third-floor galleries.