Yale’s two major art galleries do their best to pull in visitors from the campus and around the world with their exciting permanent collections and exhibitions. This year, they did it better than ever before.
“Our attendance has been fabulous,” said Sandy Skipper, the acting public relations manager for the British Art Center. “This has been our best year ever.”
Attendance at the British Art Center in 1999 was 119,143, but then dipped in 2000 to 116,497. In 2001, attendance reached its new high at 124,123.
Marie Weltzien, the director of public information for the Yale University Art Gallery, said attendance there has also increased in the past year, with visitors coming from both the University and New Haven.
“Since we are a teaching museum, Yale has to be our first audience,” Weltzien said. “[But] we are also a municipal museum — we get an enormous number of school groups from local New Haven schools.”
Weltzien said the art gallery has benefited from undergraduate involvement; 35 students serve as gallery guides and about 50 work in children’s programs.
“The thing that has changed the most in the past three years is we have a number of undergraduates as gallery guides,” Weltzien said. “They are enthusiastic — it’s wonderful.”
Emelie Gevalt ’03, a history of art major, said in an e-mail that she uses the museums for her art history classes, sometimes on a weekly basis or with assignments that deal specifically with works of art in the gallery.
“Both museums play an integral part in my studies as an art history major,” Gevalt said. “The collection is small, but if I can’t make it into New York to the [Metropolitan Museum of Art], the gallery is extremely helpful as a starting point for paper ideas. Looking at slides just doesn’t compare to being able to walk into a museum freely, at any time of day, and see works of art for yourself. I feel very lucky to have the museums close at hand.”
The British Art Center is currently showing an exhibition called “Painted Ladies: Women at the Court of Charles II.” Zoe Blacksin ’05 said that her “Women and Art, 1500-1800” class will use the exhibit, but that both galleries have a limited audience.
“I’m sure people outside the art and art history community don’t use [the British Art Center] that much,” Blacksin said. “I go usually [to the art gallery] because I’m showing someone around — my grandparents or a friend from Tufts.”
Gevalt said she found the Painted Ladies exhibition illuminating.
“I had been looking forward to seeing it for a while and found it to be very informative,” Gevalt said.
Skipper said the British Art Center tries to advertise to a broad audience, both within New Haven and beyond.
“The British Art Center also targets international visitors,” Skipper said. “We try to make the general public aware of our permanent collection, Prints and Drawings Department, reference library, and programs.”
Dina Solomon ’03, also a history of art major, said in an e-mail that she likes it when professors use works that reside in the Yale art galleries in class, but that she does not go to the galleries as often as she would like.
“I have to honestly say that I don’t get to the art galleries as much as I should or would like to,” Solomon said. “I don’t go for specific exhibitions, and I actually don’t keep track of which ones are happening and what is coming up. I usually go and just wander around looking at the things that interest me.”