Despite economy, gallery continues renovations

Even as the University scaled back spending, leaving dozens of capital projects on hold, Jock Reynolds, the director of the Yale University Art Gallery, found a way for his project to go forward.

Defying economic odds, Reynolds raised the $76 million necessary to complete the renovation of Egerton Swartwout’s Old Art Gallery — the dilapidated wing of the gallery and the final stage of a three-part renovation that has been underway since 2006. Thanks to the secured funds, construction at the gallery will begin mid-October and is slated for completion by the second half of 2012, Reynolds said.

The renovation of Egerton Swartwout’s Old Art Gallery, pictured here in January, is slated for completion by the second half of 2012.
Erica Cooper
The renovation of Egerton Swartwout’s Old Art Gallery, pictured here in January, is slated for completion by the second half of 2012.

The project involves the bridging of Swartwout’s building and Street Hall with space for display, making the gallery cross High Street for the first time.

Last December, after the economy tanked, the University implemented a new policy that froze all new capital projects until the full amount required for completion of the project was raised. With just two weeks before construction was scheduled to start at the gallery, the University put the renovation on an indefinite hold.

But Reynolds, who returned early from his sabbatical, was not discouraged.

During the summer, he stepped up to the occasion and increased fundraising efforts, garnering a plethora of contributions from gallery governing board members and other private benefactors, Reynolds said. The gallery renovation will now be the first new capital project to begin on campus since the policy change last year.

The donors, Reynolds explained, are loyal supporters of the gallery who believe in the importance of its role on campus.

“You know, people love this University and believe in the educating mission of the gallery, so they generously stepped forward with substantial gifts,” Reynolds said.

While Reynolds credited patrons of the gallery for the financial feat, vice president for development Inge Reichenbach praised Reynolds as the force behind the fundraising success.

“I want to give [Reynolds] all the credit,” Reichenbach said. “He came back early from his sabbatical because when the financial crisis hit and the president had to say ‘Well we just have to stop things,’ Jock came back and said ‘I want to work even harder on this.’ ”

As signs of nationwide recovery surface, Reynolds said the gallery’s ability to raise such a substantial amount of money might be a harbinger of economic upturn. He added that the project will create many jobs in New Haven.

The gallery plans to resume its work with Polshek Partnership Architects and Dimeo Construction — the two firms it had contracted for the project last year. Though there will be some efforts to use cheaper materials here and there, the plans for the renovation have not been altered in any significant way, Reynolds said.

After the renovation is completed, Street Hall will host the gallery’s American Paintings and Sculpture and American Decorative Arts collections, as well as the Nolen Education Center, which is an educational and public outreach program funded by a $20 million donation from the Nolen family. The Ancient Art, Coins and Medals, Early European Art and Modern and Contemporary Art collections will be on display at the Swartwout Building.

These changes will provide the Kahn Building, which currently houses all collections, with more gallery space for African, Asian and the newly created Indo-Pacific Art collections as well as the Duffy Gallery for Prints, Drawings and Photographs.

Comments

  • ’12

    Very well done indeed.