Four interactive events drew crowds to the Yale Center for British Art this Wednesday.
On Wednesday, the Center piloted its “Painting in the Galleries” program, conducted the second session of its new “Framed!” series and organized a “Student Night Out in the Study Room” in its newly refurbished Study Room, in addition to hosting a chamber music concert by students at the School of Music. Curator of Education at the Center Linda Friedlaender said the Center did not intend for these programs to fall on one day but that Wednesday’s “constellation of events” illustrated the unprecedented magnitude of event programming taking place at the museum this semester.
“There are now so many things going on that there’s not even enough space to conduct all the programs we want to,” Friedlaender said.
Friedlaender said that while many museums are building new spaces to accommodate additional programs, the Center’s historic Louis I. Kahn Memorial Building is under strict conservation rules and cannot be expanded. Friedlaender noted that the Center might begin to conduct more programs in its Crown Street space, where some of its offices are located, or in the museum’s space on West Campus.
Friedlaender added that the real conversation about the future of the expanding Education Department will take place in 2015, when the museum will be almost entirely closed for the second phase of its building restoration project.
“When I began here 16 years ago, I was given a key and an office, and that was it,” said Friedlaender, the Center’s first Curator of Education, adding that the Education Department now consists of four members and that the museum runs about 325 programs a year.
Friedlaender explained that while many of the Center’s programs — such as teacher workshops, summer programs for children and gallery talks — have been going on for a number of years, the Center has increased the scale and breadth of its offerings.
Assistant Curator of Education Jaime Ursic ART ’02 led Wednesday’s “Painting in the Galleries” program, which, like most of the Center’s programs geared towards the adult public, will take place in three installations. Ursic instructed Wednesday’s 13 participants — some of whom had never drawn before, while others were professional architects or docents at the museum — in drawing sculptures from the Center’s collection.
YCBA Curator for Collections Research and Head of Collections Information and Access Matthew Hargraves led the second of three installments of the Center’s new “Framed!” initiative, a guided tour of the frames holding the museum’s painting collections. Thirty adults from the Yale and New Haven communities attended Wednesday’s event.
Hargraves explained that frames have only emerged as a subject of study in museums within the last few years. “Framed!” is the first program at the Center to address the topic and among the first in the world to do so, he said, citing museums in England and Canada as other pioneers in the field. Hargraves added that the Center began creating an online database for its frames about four years ago and finally completed it this past November.
Curator of Prints and Drawings Gillian Forrester said Wednesday’s “Student Night Out in the Study Room,” though not directly organized by the Center’s Education Department, is one new endeavor likely to become a regular event at the Center. Unlike many of the Education Department’s programs, this event is not dependent on availability of classrooms or other spaces. The event was meant to encourage undergraduates from Yale and students from other local colleges to make use of the Rare Books and Manuscripts and the Prints and Drawings Collections housed in the newly refurbished Study Room.
In an effort to attract undergraduates to the event, the two departments worked with the Center’s Student Guides to publicize Wednesday’s open house on social media networks, Forrester said, adding that the Center also stayed open late to accommodate undergraduates’ schedules.
Friedlaender said the Center does not intentionally reach out to one audience over another but tries to engage a diverse range of participants, including children, families, school groups, undergraduates from both Yale and the surrounding area, Yale faculty and the general public. In addition to providing an opportunity for learning and entertainment, each outreach program is meant to help broaden the museum’s visitor base, Friedlaender explained.
She said programs for audiences with special considerations, such as the Center’s monthly “Exploring Artism” event for families with children on the autism spectrum, are the most recent addition to the Department’s offerings.
On Saturday, the Center will host “Exploring Artism” as well as both an architectural and a student guide tour.