Student Guide Program

2016–2017 Student Guides, Lecture Hall, Yale Center for British Art, photograph by Richard Caspole


The Center is home to an active Student Guide Program, offering Yale undergraduates from all disciplines the opportunity to work closely with works of art and museum departments. Student guides meet weekly to learn about the Center’s collections, refine their touring skills, spend time in the Rare Books & Manuscripts and Prints & Drawings departments, take trips to area museums and galleries, and work on an annual student-curated Art in Focus exhibition.

Undergraduate student teaching painting to three other students

The Student Guide Program began in the fall of 2002 with the aim of increasing the profile and use of the Center among Yale undergraduates. Guides develop introductory tours of the Center’s collections based on their interests. The program is run under the guidance of Linda Friedlaender, Senior Curator of Education, and Jaime Ursic, Associate Curator of Education.

Submissions are now closed for the 2017–18 academic year. If you are interested in becoming a student guide, applications will be accepted for the 2018–19 academic year beginning in summer 2018.

For more information, contact Education ( | +1 203 432 2858), or follow the Center’s student guides on Facebook and Instagram.

Students with John O'Brien, photo by Beth Miller

John F. O’Brien Acquisition Program

As a longtime Friend of British Art, John O’Brien has established an endowment in support of arts education at the Center with the specific aim of increasing undergraduates’ appreciation of, and commitment to, the arts by involving them in the acquisition process. The fund will be used to support both the purchase of artworks for the Center and the students’ involvement in their acquisition, including research and travel.

The idea for this inspired gift came from O’Brien’s own experience as an undergraduate at Georgetown University. While in school, he began visiting galleries in Washington, DC, and gained considerable knowledge from the dealers beyond the classroom. This experience proved invaluable as he formed a significant collection of Japanese prints and Italian paintings. While history of art courses and student guide experiences afford undergraduates the opportunity to learn about various aspects of the collections, O’Brien recognized that the acquisition process might remain a mystery without this special opportunity of hands-on experience. 

Read more about the this program here.

Art in Focus

Art in Focus, now in its tenth year, is an annual initiative for members of the Center’s Student Guide Program, providing curatorial experience and an introduction to all aspects of exhibition practice. In researching and presenting the exhibition, the students are mentored by Linda Friedlaender and Jaime Ursic. Previous student guide exhibitions include Art in Focus: Gazes Returned (2012), Art in Focus: St Ives Abstraction (2013), Art in Focus: Wales (2014), and Art in Focus: Relics of Old London (2016). In 2017, returning student guides researched and presented the exhibition Art in Focus: The British Castle—A Symbol in Stone.

Art in Focus: The British Castle—A Symbol in Stone

April 7–August 6, 2017

Hundreds of medieval castles dot the British landscape—most are now ruins, but some are still inhabited by aristocratic families or serve as government buildings. More than any other building type, the castle, in its rise and fall, encapsulates the history of British society. This exhibition brought together a selection of paintings that explored the castle in art—its historical role, place in the landscape, architectural development, and literary associations. Among the specific castles featured were Windsor, the largest and oldest inhabited castle in the world and home to the monarch; Corfe Castle, whose ruins after the Civil War serve as a warning that, in a modern democracy, power must bow to the will of the people; and Dover, whose mass kept watch against invasion from France from before the Norman Conquest through to the Second World War. Selections gave insight into castles, both real and imagined, and summarized their symbolic role in British life.

In researching and presenting this exhibition, the students were guided by David Frazer Lewis, Postdoctoral Research Associate; Linda Friedlaender, Senior Curator of Education; and Jaime Ursic, Associate Curator of Education. The student curators were Irene Chung, BR ’17; Zoe Dobuler, TC ’17; Julia Fleming-Dresser, TD ’19; Claire Goldsmith, ES ’18; Caroline Kanner, JE ’18; Daniel Leibovic, TC ’17; Catherine Liu, ES ’18; and Nicholas Stewart, JE ’18.

Students making t-shirts that read, Keep Calm and ...

Art Club

Each semester the Student Guide Program hosts an Art Club social event at the Center for students from across the university. Student guides offer gallery tours, refreshments, and art-making that is inspired by a British artwork, artist, or theme.