“I look forward to sharing more details on the installation of the new gallery spaces in the coming months as we count down to a grand celebration of the Gallery’s fully renovated and expanded facilities this December. In the meantime, please come our way to enjoy all that is on view now and to imagine everything you will be able to see very soon.”
The opening of the renovated and expanded Yale University Art Gallery is now within sight. As you walk along Chapel Street this semester, the sidewalks are once again open in front of Street Hall and the Old Yale Art Gallery, and the scaffolding is gone. The construction workers are packing up their tools, and our curators and art handlers are beginning the long, methodical installation of works in our large array of new permanent-collection and special-exhibition galleries. Much of the art that has been on view temporarily in the Kahn building is being integrated into these new displays as we keep our teaching museum continuously open and accessible to students, faculty members, and all our public visitors throughout this complex reinstallation process.
On the second floor of the Kahn building, you will see the beautiful objects in our Asian collection presented in a new installation. David Sensabaugh, the Ruth and Bruce Dayton Curator of Asian Art, and Sadako Ohki, the Japan Foundation Associate Curator of Japanese Art, have seized this opportunity to rethink the presentation of many objects in their care, repositioning Japanese screens and other important objects so that they can be viewed from multiple perspectives, and they are planning to rotate works more frequently for those of you who come our way repeatedly throughout the year. I am thankful to our many donors to the Department of Asian Art. You have helped us continue to enlarge the holdings of the department and to install expanded displays of Asian art at the Gallery.
Our ongoing three-part presentation of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: American Art from the Yale University Art Gallery continues to provide a unique and focused way to encounter a wonderful selection of early American art before the works settle in to their new home in Street Hall. I encourage you to visit the next two rotations of the exhibition, Defining a Nation, on view January 31 to April 8, and America Rising, from May 8 to July 8, and to experience many of the outstanding programs that provide visitors a chance for a fuller understanding of this important period of American history. This yearlong project has afforded us new opportunities to collaborate with students and faculty colleagues working across campus; for example, our September 2011 program A Revolutionary Woman: An Afternoon with Mrs. Mercy Otis Warren featured a moving performance by Laura Gragtmans, a third-year graduate student in the acting program, and projection design by Kristen Robinson, a second-year graduate student in set design, both of the Yale School of Drama. This spring, Professor Willie Ruff of the Yale School of Music will speak on one of the early African-American jazz artists, Oscar Pettiford. I look forward to seeing many of you in the audience on Sunday, May 13.
I am happy to announce the promotion of two of our museum fellows. Since 2009, Elizabeth Manekin has been enthusiastically overseeing our undergraduate Gallery Guide program and teaching in the galleries as the John Walsh Senior Fellow in the Education Department, and she will continue those duties in her new position as our Museum Educator. Keely Orgeman, the Marcia Brady Tucker Senior Fellow in the Department of American Paintings and Sculpture, is now Acting Assistant Curator in the department, a position she assumes in the wake of the departure of Robin Jaffee Frank, the Alice and Allan Kaplan Senior Associate Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture. Robin, who has served the Gallery and Yale in remarkable fashion since 1986 and was much praised for creating outstanding exhibitions such as Love and Loss: American Portrait and Mourning Miniatures (2000), Justice on Trial: Ben Shahn’s Case for Sacco and Vanzetti (2002), and Stagestruck in America: Artists, Entertainers, and Audiences, 1906–1956 (2004), and for growing one of the finest collections of American portrait miniatures extant anywhere, is now the chief curator and curator of American art for the Wadsworth Atheneum, in Hartford, Connecticut. Robin’s move to this important new leadership position is recognition of her strong professional growth over many years, and the move to the Atheneum provides yet another example of how the Gallery’s mentoring of talent continues to support the good health of other art museums across our country.
I look forward to sharing more details on the installation of the new gallery spaces in the coming months as we count down to a grand celebration of the Gallery’s fully renovated and expanded facilities this December. In the meantime, please come our way to enjoy all that is on view now and to imagine everything you will be able to see very soon.
The Henry J. Heinz II Director