This fall, the Yale University Art Gallery extended its Thursday hours until 8 p.m. from the standard 5 p.m. closing time. The additional hours are intended to make the gallery more accessible to both Yale graduate and undergraduate students, who are often too busy with classes to tour the gallery before 5 o’clock.

This scheduling conflict has been a longtime concern of gallery staff.

“Students often can’t find time during the day to come to the art gallery unless they happen to be in the art or architecture programs. We picked Thursdays to stay open late because we know that it is the start of ‘the college weekend’ and thought that students would be most likely to visit on that night,” says Ellen Alvord, the gallery’s head of education.

Advourd has been working along with Yale students and the rest of the Yale University Art Gallery’s Education Department to design new ways of highlighting the Gallery’s extended hours. The Education Department has traditionally run a wide range of programs designed at bringing art to various segments of the Yale and New Haven community; educational tours, lectures, and receptions have been tried and true staples of the Gallery’s teaching function.

“College Nights,” cultural events scheduled for select Thursday evenings each semester, are a new kind of outreach. “With College Nights we want to break away from the purely ‘teaching’ purpose a lot of our special events here. We’re trying to bring in something fun and unusual – like dance or music or poetry – and create an amusing and social evening. It should be a nice change of pace for a Thursday evening, and something that draws college kids into the Gallery that’s not an overbearingly educational experience,” says Advourd.

Thus far the Gallery has hosted both the musical group Jazz Dialect and, more recently, the Yale-based dance group Life Dreaming. Yale College Freshman Alexis Ringwald attended Life Dreaming’s performance last Thursday. “I’ve been meaning to go to the Yale University Art Gallery ever since I got here,” says Ringwald, “and as a dancer myself, when I heard about the Gallery hosting a dance performance it finally motivated me to stop by. It was fun and low key — I ended up getting great food and seeing a little of the art there too.”

The Gallery’s student guides are some of College Nights’ most adamant sponsors.

“It makes me sad that there are people here who have walked by the Art Gallery probably hundreds of times, but have never gone inside. College Nights are a really great way to students interested in coming to the Gallery. They’ll come for the music, dance, or poetry, but then hopefully stay late and come back in the future for the art,” notes Corey Zehngebot ’02.

Zehngebot is one of those responsible in planning the next College Night, scheduled for Thursday, November 1st. It will be a student poetry reading inspired by and aimed at drawing attention to a special project led by Assistant Curator Joanna Weber and the Yale English Department’s John Hollander. The two have facilitated the publication of “Words for Images: A Gallery of Poems”, a compilation of twenty poems written by Yale Alumni and inspired by objects in the Yale University Art Gallery’s permanent collection.

The November 1st program follows this lead by inviting students to read poetry inspired by Yale University Art Gallery art. Some of the Compilation’s Alumni poets may read as well. After the event, all will be invited to view the Gallery’s exhibition of Alumni poems alongside the objects by which they were inspired.