Yalies who want to feast their eyes on ancient art had better hurry.

The African Gallery of the Yale University Art Gallery closed Jan. 2 in the first of a series of scheduled closings in preparation for a two-year renovation of the gallery’s Louis I. Kahn building. Next on the list is the Ancient Gallery, scheduled to shut its doors Feb. 3.

Anna Hammond, associate director of the gallery, said the primary reason for the renovations is to make the museum more accessible.

“It will allow the museum to be more effective than it already is as a teaching museum,” she said. “Constant flexibility is a great way to maintain a teaching space.”

The Egerton Swartwout structure will house selected works in the sculpture hall and adjoining gallery during the remodeling. Despite the move, public programming will not be affected.

“It’s sad that the public won’t be able to access everything now,” said Marie Weltzien, director of public information for the gallery. “But after two years you will be, and everyone will be served better.”

Luke Habberstad ’03, head coordinator of the student gallery guide program, said it is important to remember that the gallery will remain open during the renovations.

“Most galleries would shut down everything; it’s incredible we can see anything at all,” he said. “The administration has made it a high priority to keep certain exhibits open.”

Some parts of the gallery have not been renovated since the gallery was constructed 50 years ago, and others are simply in need of repair, Weltzien said. Some of the renovations will involve standard general maintenance repairs, such as fixing broken windows. Hammond said other changes will attempt to bring the gallery closer to Kahn’s original vision, including a larger focus on interior light and movement.

ÊAnother aspect of the upcoming redesign is the relocation of administrative offices outside of the building. These changes — some temporary and some permanent — will open up much more room for exhibition space.

“There are so many treasures in storage that we will be able to bring out,” said Ellen Alvord, assistant curator of education. “I expect the end results will be quite spectacular.”

The renovation has also prompted a new exhibit called “The Once and Future Art Gallery: Renewing Yale’s Oldest Museum” which opened yesterday. Organized by curators Suzanne Boorsch and Susan Matheson, the exhibit traces the gallery’s architectural history. The show includes a design and model for the renovation project, as well as architectural drawings and photographs.

In February, University President Richard Levin is scheduled to give a detailed address concerning the scope of the renovations. According to a gallery press release, he will also announce the gifts and donations that support the remodeling and the gallery in general.

Subsequent closings are scheduled to include the Early European Gallery March 3 and the entire Modern and Contemporary floor March 31.