From the Director

Director Amy Meyers, fourth-floor galleries overlooking the Library Court, photograph by Michael Marsland

Dear friends,

Reflecting on my seventeen years as director of the Yale Center for British Art, I feel deeply grateful to have had the honor and privilege to lead such a distinguished institution. The greatest pleasure has come from working with wonderful people whose friendship I shall treasure forever—colleagues at the Center and our sister institution, the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, in London (PMC); students and scholars from across Yale and around the world; partners at museums, libraries, and research institutes across the globe; donors and lenders; and audience members whose presence gives life to our galleries, classrooms, and lecture hall.

We have accomplished so much with the PMC and associated institutions internationally. Most publicly, we have crafted over fifty major loan exhibitions, with attendant workshops, performances, symposia, and award-winning publications, published in partnership with Yale University Press (YUP). Through these projects, we have supported the work of thousands of students and scholars from across the world to learn from our shared collections and programs. Many of our institutions have collaborated to offer our collections free to all through our cutting-edge digital humanities programs.

We now seek to link these online collections seamlessly to allow audiences worldwide to explore the rich global history of British art. And in partnership, we have extended the resources to analyze and treat our collections in the development of our conservation and conservation science programs, ensuring that the objects in our collective care will be there for generations to come. Our own program to conserve our landmark building designed by Louis I. Kahn also has produced a model conservation plan, which has helped to steer the conservation of other modern buildings of cultural significance according to best practices. These initiatives, and so many more, have enhanced scholarship internationally and extended our conversations with the broader public in vitally important ways.

On June 19, we will celebrate the opening of Photographs | Contemporary Art: Recent Gifts and Acquisitions, which will feature works given to, or purchased by, the Center in recent years. A selection of major gifts and promised gifts, as well as important purchases made with funds from Friends of British Art, will illuminate the expanding depth and richness of the Center’s exceptional collections. I am particularly gratified by the generosity of Joan W. and Henry J. Binder, Yale MAH 1978, who have established a generous endowment to care for the collection they will leave to the Center and to add to the holdings of modern and contemporary prints in the future. I also am pleased to announce a special gift of nearly 1,400 British photographs from the Joy of Giving Something Foundation, Inc. The donation expands dramatically the Center’s photographic collections, which range from works by the earliest practitioners to the most celebrated photographers working today.

In the current issue of the print calendar we acknowledge those benefactors who presented gifts to the Center in 2018. A list of works added to our collection, including those acquisitions made with the endowment established for the institution by Paul Mellon, as well as funds generously donated to us by our Friends of British Art.

Last year, the Royal Academy of Arts in London celebrated 250 years of its annual Summer Exhibition. In conjunction with the celebration our colleagues at the PMC produced chronicle250. com. We are excited to report that this online publication has won the 2019 People’s Voice Webby Award in the category of General Websites—Art, as well as the 2019 Gold MUSE Award from the American Alliance of Museums, in the Online Experience category. We also are honored that our recent publication George Shaw: A Corner of a Foreign Field has won Best in Show at the 2019 New England Museum Association (NEMA) Publication Awards. Published by the Center and PMC, in association with YUP, the volume accompanied an exhibition of the same name, which was on view here in 2018, and at the Holburne Museum in Bath earlier this year.

With great pride, we announce that New Haven Mayor Toni Harp and Yale President Peter Salovey have presented Linda Friedlaender, Senior Curator of Education, with an Ivy Award. For more than twenty years, Linda has developed innovative programs to engage all members of the community, including family activities, opportunities for visitors with special needs, and our annual Summer Teacher Institute.

In June, the Center will join colleagues from across Yale to offer a weeklong program in partnership with the Alliance of Historically Black Colleges and University (HCBU) Museums and Galleries. The program, funded by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, will bring undergraduates and their faculty mentors to campus to learn about career opportunities in conservation. Later in the summer, the Center will welcome professors from colleges around the country to attend a seminar entitled “Art and Society in Britain, Hogarth to Turner (1730–1851).” Taught by Professor Tim Barringer, this course is sponsored by the Council of Independent Colleges and underwritten by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. Additionally, in collaboration with the PMC, as well as the Yale School of Art, the Yale History of Art Department, and London’s Institute for Contemporary Art, a two-week summer seminar on the topic of the artists’ collective will be held in London for graduate students in art history and the fine arts.

I am absolutely delighted to be passing the baton to Courtney J. Martin, whose appointment as the Center’s sixth director will commence on July 1. Since Courtney will be taking the summer months to transition into her new position and will begin her regular duties in September, she has asked Deputy Director Constance Clement to assist as interim director, given her superb service as acting director on two previous occasions. I am deeply indebted to Cecie for agreeing to take on these additional duties.

While a doctoral candidate at Yale, Courtney was a Graduate Research Assistant at the Center, contributing to the exhibition Art and Emancipation in Jamaica: Isaac Mendes Belisario and His Worlds. She has gone on to a distinguished career as a professor at Vanderbilt and Brown, and as Deputy Director and Chief Curator at DIA. I join my colleagues in welcoming her home to the Center, and to Yale!

With my sincere thanks for your many years of support and friendship.

Warmest regards,
Amy Meyers, former Director