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September 29, 2014
Yale University Art Gallery Announces Gift to Make Collections More Accessible
Margaret and C. Angus Wurtele support the eponymous Wurtele Gallery Teacher Program and the creation of a new open-access collection study center
The Yale University Art Gallery has received a major gift from Margaret and C. Angus Wurtele, B.A. 1956, of Minneapolis. The gift supports the development of an open-access storage facility and the Gallery’s education program. Angus Wurtele has been a member of the Gallery’s Governing Board since 2004, and together Margaret and Angus Wurtele are recognized for their extraordinary philanthropy to organizations in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, such as the Walker Art Center and the Guthrie Theater. The Wurteles have previously been recognized for their generosity to Yale with the naming of the Gallery’s sculpture garden in 2001 and sculpture terrace in 2009.
In 2006 Margaret and Angus Wurtele endowed the Gallery’s pilot program of graduate students, called Wurtele Gallery Teachers, hired and trained to teach K–12 school groups, and with their new gift, they have augmented the original endowment. The initial program included six graduate students; with the success of the program and the expansion of the Gallery in 2012, the program now requires 17 graduate students to meet the demands of area schools. The students, who represent Yale’s broad range of academic and professional degree programs, are trained in pedagogy and lead the school groups in close-looking sessions. Jessica Sack, Jan and Frederick Mayer Senior Associate Curator of Public Education, who administers the Gallery Teacher program, states, “These graduate students are the heart of our teaching at the Gallery. Last year 12,000 schoolchildren visited the museum for sessions led by Wurtele Gallery Teachers, so at any given moment on any given day, you would encounter students in preschool through high school actively looking, thinking, and conversing in front of original works of art. In addition to their work with school groups, the Wurtele Gallery Teachers lead some of our public programs for families, work with special needs audiences including adults with memory loss, engage with multilingual community outreach programs, and administer after-school art clubs for local adolescents.”
With this new support from Margaret and Angus Wurtele, the Gallery has now begun the construction, outfitting, and installation of a major new collection study facility at Yale’s West Campus. Eventually, all of the Gallery’s off-site art storage will be consolidated in this multi-building complex, which will be known as the Collection Studies Center. The newly named Margaret and Angus Wurtele Study Center, soon to open within the Collection Studies Center complex, will be a 49,000-square-foot space housing approximately 33,000 three-dimensional objects, increasing the accessibility of the Gallery’s collections for teaching, scholarly research, conservation, and scientific analysis—all key functions of a university museum. The Wurtele Study Center will provide a combination of open-shelf, vitrine, and drawer storage to maximize visibility of the most important and frequently used parts of the collection while also ensuring ready access to all of the objects housed at the center. Artworks will be organized and stored by medium, promoting the use of sustainable environmental controls set to optimum levels for each type of material, such as metal, ceramic, glass, and wood. Within each category of material, objects will be further sorted by culture and period, encouraging cross-disciplinary research that bridges the conventional boundaries of art-historical and curatorial responsibilities.
The creation of an open-storage collection study center directly underscores the Gallery’s institutional mission to facilitate direct learning from original works of art—through study facilities, curatorial projects, internships, and other research and teaching opportunities. Jock Reynolds, the Gallery’s Henry J. Heinz II Director, explains, “While our now fully renovated, expanded, and reinstalled museum in downtown New Haven enables us to regularly display and teach with more objects—both on public view and in classrooms—than ever before, the Gallery stewards a very large and ever-growing encyclopedic collection. Margaret and Angus’s most recent gift will henceforth help our teaching museum provide full and ready access to many more of our holdings, in yet another world-class facility, which will broadly enhance the Gallery’s central artistic and educational mission.”
Future phases of Yale’s West Campus development project will include the relocation of the Gallery’s paintings, large-scale objects, and the famed Furniture Study to the site. In addition to the Wurteles’ gift, the multiphase project has also received generous support from Leslie and George Hume, The Henry Luce Foundation, and an anonymous gift.