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The campus is once again alive with excitement as another fine group of Yale University students join us in New Haven. Opportunities abound for these young scholars, and the Yale University Art Gallery offers many immersive experiences that will help expand their horizons.
The student employees and volunteers at the Gallery now well outnumber the museum’s professional staff; last year there were 188 student workers. My colleagues and I would simply not be able to accomplish all the work we do without the help of these active and talented young learners. Thus, I am especially pleased to report that the Gallery will continue to offer salaried student positions regardless of financial aid status. I am most grateful to Yale parents Katheryn Patterson and Thomas Kempner, Jr., B.A. 1975, who have generously added to the Gallery’s endowment to ensure that all deserving Yale students will perpetually have the opportunity to be employed at the Gallery. Their daughter Jessica Kempner, B.A. 2014, has contributed her talents to the Gallery in multiple ways over the last three years. Jessie recently graduated from Yale as a History of Art major with honors, having served as head Gallery Guide during her senior year and as a guide during her sophomore and junior years. She also worked in the Education Department and is one of six student curators of the exhibition Odd Volumes: Book Art from the Allan Chasanoff Collection.
The Wurtele Gallery Teacher program also offers meaningful employment opportunities for students at the museum. The Gallery Teachers—highly skilled and devoted graduate students who hail from many of the University’s disciplines and professional schools—now provide almost all of the K–12 class tours the Gallery offers to more than thirteen thousand young visitors each year. These tours help sharpen the eyes of students and teach them to articulate what they see as they look closely at different works of art. The knowledge and skills they gain from these experiences will serve them throughout their lives, and we are delighted that a number of them bring their families back to the Gallery. In April 2014 Yale President Peter Salovey and New Haven Mayor Toni Harp recognized the Gallery Teachers as the recipients of this year’s Yale University Seton Elm-Ivy Awards. These annual awards honor people whose public service significantly strengthens ties between the University and the city of New Haven. Thanks to the largesse of Margaret and Angus Wurtele, B.A. 1956, who first funded the Gallery Teacher program in 2005 and have now generously amplified its endowment even further, the fourteen teaching positions will be sustained in perpetuity as fully funded teaching fellowships.
This summer the Gallery participated for the first time in the New Haven Promise program—an initiative that provides up to full tuition for any graduate of a New Haven public high school who meets the highest levels of academic performance and citizenship and attends a Connecticut public college or university. These New Haveners spent eight weeks working full-time in the departments of Collections, Conservation, Education, Exhibitions, and Prints and Drawings, learning important skills that could lead them into careers in the arts or turn them into lifelong museum-goers. We are hopeful that many of these excellent graduates of New Haven’s public schools will eventually return to live in the city once they complete their degrees.
The Gallery’s fall exhibitions are the result of much student engagement. Odd Volumes: Book Art from the Allan Chasanoff Collection was organized by a team of six students who have worked for the past year to study and analyze this unique book-art collection and create an installation to share it with the public. Three more exhibitions also involved student work and research in the museum departments in which they were organized. Curators, editors, installers, and others mentored the students, engaging them in dialogue at each decision-making stage of the process. The results are the beautiful exhibitions and publications you can enjoy this fall.
Students play a vital role in the day-to-day operations at the Gallery, and my colleagues and I are thrilled to now have many more of them working side-by-side with us, either in our offices, leading tours, organizing exhibitions, or simply lingering in the galleries as they seek moments of quiet contemplation. I hope you will come see our students in action this fall and join me in praising the fine work they do and the meaningful public service they provide to this community.
Henry J. Heinz II Director
Jock Reynolds, the Henry J. Heinz II Director, in the newly installed galleries of contemporary art