Did you know that John Trumbull is buried with his wife in the basement of the Yale University Art Gallery? Or that a Jewish family is petitioning Yale for a French painting by Gustave Courbet, which they claim was stolen from them in World War II?
Most Yalies are not aware of the richness of some of the resources available to them. But that may soon change, as the gallery is now open late until 8 p.m. on Thursday nights, when “College Nights” are held for students.
“The art gallery should be a place for students to hang out, to enjoy art and to enjoy themselves,” said Ellen Alvord, assistant curator of the gallery.
In an attempt to attract more undergraduate patrons, the gallery’s education department is organizing special events on Thursday nights that include refreshments, performances and tours.
The last College Night on Sept. 20, for example, included a “Jazz Dialect” performance. About two hundred people attended the performance and went on informal tours of the gallery.
One student, Cris Canizares ’02, described the atmosphere as being “relaxed, comfortable and social.”
College Nights will be held on Oct. 18 and Nov. 1, from 6 to 8 p.m. On Oct. 18 there will be a multimedia dance performance by a group called “Lifedreaming.” The group members, who are all recent Yale alumni, plan to paint their bodies and then use choreographed movements to create paintings on a canvas.
The audience will be seated in a single row around the canvas as the dance, which is based on Australian Aboriginal ground paintings, takes place. Audience members will also have the opportunity to squeeze through two six-foot high, white spandex balloons using black powder paint to create their own designs.
The Nov. 1 event will feature music, improvisational performances, poetry readings and a reception for students. Besides College Nights, the art gallery is forming a student advisory committee headed up by Canizares.
“The art gallery is an amazing academic resource,” said Lynn Winningham ’02, a guide at the museum. “But it is also a place that instigates wonder, a place students should visit for themselves.”