The Yale University Art Gallery is renovating a lot more than just its building.
Now almost a year into the final stages of its renovation, the gallery’s departments are beginning to plan for the full reopening of the gallery. As the renovation nears its completion, some departments are looking to change locationswithin the gallery, while others face tough decisions on which collections to include in their permanent displays.
One section on the move is the Department of African Art. In its new location next to the Department of Modern and Contemporary Arton the third floor of the Kahn Building, Frederick Lamp, curator of the department, said he anticipates a better flow between the exhibits than existed in their previous configurationon the second floor. Previously, Lamp’s department was located next to the Department of Asian Art, and as these sections of the gallery did not share similar cultural roots, Lamp said, there was never much of a link between their collections.
Replacing the Department of African Art as the Department of Asian Art’s neighbor will be the 20-month-oldDepartment of Indo-Pacific Art. Ruth Barnes, curator of Indo-Pacific art, said her department’s location will provide a more logical structure to thegallery.
David Sensabaugh, curator of Asian art, said that while the physical layoutof the Asian art section will remain the same, efforts will be made to link the art on display with that in the Indo-Pacific section.
“We hope to showcase collections concerning Asian and Indo-Pacific cultural themes like the flow of Buddhism from China to Indonesia,” Sensabaugh said.
Other departments are deciding on the composition of their permanent displays.
In the process of the renovation, some collections in the Department of American Decorative Arts had to be “de-installed,” Patricia Kane GRD ’87, the department’s curator, said. Her department is currently selecting new collections to display in the renovated gallery.
“I think [the changes] will be quite spectacular,” Kane said.
Meanwhile, Lisa Brody ’91, associate curator of ancient art, said her department will benefit from the increased space and improved climate control system that the renovation will provide.
There are numerous collections in the Department of Ancient Art that were not previously displayed due to the inability to precisely regulate temperature, lightingand humidity in the gallery, she said. One such collection includes artifacts from an excavation of Dura-Europos, an ancient city located in modern Syria, which was conducted in part by a team from Yale in the 1920s and 1930s.
Despite all these additions, the gallery renovation remains on schedule and within budget, Jock Reynolds, director of the Yale University Art Gallery, said in an e-mail. Reynolds added that, in the last two weeks, the floors of the rooftop temporary exhibition galleries and the sculpture terrace have been installed.
“You’re going to have the big New York City and Boston galleries, and the Yale University Art Gallery will be right up there [once the renovations are complete],” said Brody. “We’ll definitely be drawing in audiences from outside New Haven.”
Three of four students interviewed said they would be interested in visiting the Yale University Art Gallery once the renovation is complete. Caroline Chang ’12 said that she used to visit the gallery often to unwind, and that she misses the ancient art collections.
“It will be nice to see greater variety in the art,” Haley Thurston ’13 said, when informed of the renovation’s promise for increased gallery space.
The renovation is slated to finish in December 2012, Brody said.