Summer 2018 Director’s Letter

As I write my final director’s letter for the Yale University Art Gallery, I want to pay tribute to our loyal members and other supporters, some of whom have been engaged with the Gallery for even longer than the 20 years I have worked at Yale.

Our free membership has recently swelled to over 13,000 participants, and many members have also become steadfast financial supporters of the Gallery, helping to ensure that free admission—to its collections, exhibitions, and programs—is provided to anyone who wishes to look, learn, and linger with great works of art.

I know that all of our visitors will give a warm welcome to Stephanie Wiles, who will become the next Henry J. Heinz II Director on July 1. Stephanie is currently serving as the Richard J. Schwartz Director of Cornell University’s Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, in Ithaca, New York, and prior to that, she was the director of the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College, in Ohio. My colleagues and I got to know and respect Stephanie when Oberlin participated in the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation–sponsored Collection-Sharing Initiative spearheaded by the Gallery in 2010. Stephanie proved to be an excellent co-leader of this artistic and educational collaboration, which included the Gallery, Oberlin, and five other college and university art museums. She had earlier served as Curator and Head of the Davison Art Center at nearby Wesleyan University, in Middletown, Connecticut, and began her museum career at the Morgan Library and Museum, in New York City, working in its Department of Drawings and Prints.

The Gallery’s primary educational mission is to “encourage appreciation and understanding of art and its role in society through direct engagement with original works of art.” We have sought both to stay true to this mission and to broaden it as generously as possible over the last two decades, as we fully renovated and expanded our three historic museum buildings and dramatically grew our staff, collections, educational resources, and public programs. Through all the changes, we have always aimed to accomplish our goals with a welcoming spirit that embraces active learners of all ages.

By now, you will have surely noticed that many Yale University students are employed at the Gallery throughout the academic year. During the summer months, a fine cadre of New Haven Promise Interns is mentored in many of our curatorial, conservation, and administrative departments. These bright and inquisitive college students have benefited from a partnership established between the University and the City of New Haven, which provides a free college education anywhere in Connecticut to qualified New Haven high school students who have completed their high school years with strong academic achievements and a demonstrated commitment to community service. High school–age students from the community have also found the Gallery to be a welcoming and exciting place in the summer and year-round; teens are welcome to stop by on Wednesday afternoons at 3:00 pm for our popular Teen Program, a lively and fun weekly event at which teens view artworks in the collection and create their own art inspired by what they saw.

I have also been delighted that so many students in our Yale community now enjoy sharing their talents to help shape and advance the Gallery’s central artistic and educational mission. Our strong team of Gallery Guides, consisting of over 30 Yale undergraduate students, spends part of each week during the semester studying our collection and working on thematic highlights tours; these tours are offered year-round to visitors who come to the Gallery from here in New Haven, across America, or even half a world away. Our 17 Wurtele Gallery Teachers, drawn from the ranks of Yale’s graduate programs and professional schools, instruct some 16,000 K–12 students after undergoing a full year of special training with Gallery educators focusing on close looking at art.

Our Yale undergraduate and graduate students also deepen their involvement with the Gallery by serving as curators for some of our special exhibitions, and we have mounted more than a dozen of these student-curated shows over the past 20 years. As I write, three current students— Katherine McCleary, GH ’18, Leah Shrestinian, MC ’19, and Joseph Zordan, PC ’19—are working together in the Margaret and Angus Wurtele Study Center at Yale West Campus to study a wide array of Native American art and artifacts from the collections of the Gallery, the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, and the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Their careful viewings, discussions with Gallery staff, and cross-collection research will culminate in a student-curated exhibition at the Gallery, scheduled for fall 2019.

As I close, let me thank you all again for your wonderful support and friendship over the last 20 years. I have been honored to carry forward the legacy begun by John Trumbull when he founded this teaching museum in 1832. May the many great pleasures I have enjoyed while serving Yale also abound for Stephanie Wiles as she assumes the role of Henry J. Heinz II Director of the Yale University Art Gallery.


Jock Reynolds

The Henry J. Heinz II Director

Jock Reynolds, the Henry J. Heinz II Director

Jock Reynolds, the Henry J. Heinz II Director



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