While the Yale Center for British Art may have many valuable paintings in its collection, the Center considers its work with the New Haven community to be priceless.
Through hosting and organizing various interactive activities and events for the community, the Center has put forth great efforts to connect the public to the artwork in its extensive collection.
Curator of Education Linda Friedlaender said the Center’s main purpose is to serve as an educational center.
“I see the educational offerings of the Center as having two general audiences: Yale and greater New Haven,” she said.
Friedlaender said docents, who are specially trained tour guides, are an integral part of the Center’s program delivery. Jane Crowley, the Center’s head docent, said teaching people how to connect with paintings is a vital part of the program.
“The important thing with these programs is that they connect people to the paintings,” she said. “We talk about the paintings, but we also get people to look at them and visually explore them.”
One particular program aims to give New Haven teachers an opportunity to listen to literature and produce some of their own works of art. Friedlaender said the purpose of this program is to provide teachers the tools to develop their own forms of expression.
“We help enrich teachers to be as good as they can be in the classroom,” she said. “We hope they will incorporate some of the skills learned into the curriculum.”
The Center also collaborates with area arts organizations in its educational programs. Friedlaender said one particularly rewarding high school program involves a collaboration with the Elm Shakespeare Company, which teaches students about Shakespeare and visual arts.
Rachel Shane, the managing director of the Elm Shakespeare Company, said the premise for the Center’s program was a good one.
“It seemed like an excellent opportunity to introduce students to Shakespeare and art,” she said. “It’s a unique program combining both of these things.”
Several area children’s organizations such as La Junta and LEAP benefit from the Center’s community outreach programs by providing children access to the arts within the community.
Laura Ewing, a coordinator with the Yale Child Study Center, said the British Art Center serves as an important resource for underprivileged children.
“It’s a wonderful program and the kids absolutely adore it,” she said. “It gets kids out into the community, and they see parts of the city that may not be accessible to them.”
The Center’s programs are also drawing praise from members of the city’s art community. Betty Monz, the director of the Regional Cultural Plan with the Arts Council of Greater New Haven, said the British Art Center is a valuable asset for the city.
“It’s just a phenomenal facility and a phenomenal resource,” she said. “I think Yale resources are some of our community’s greatest resources.”
Crowley said she feels the Center’s community outreach programs have been successful.
“Our hope always is to bring more of the New Haven community into the museum,” she said. “I think we have tried hard and we have been making strides.”