Commemorating the completion of a forward-looking conservation project and plan, a new short film — “Conserving the Yale Center for British Art” — reflects back on the center’s history.
The documentary, which examines the Building Conservation Project in the context of the center’s history, premiered Tuesday in the YCBA’s newly restored lecture hall. Alongside interviews with key project leaders, the 12-minute-long documentary also features original music composed by Martin Bresnick, a professor at the School of Music.
“The new installation presents the center’s outstanding collection in a way that accentuates its beauty and interest, while providing a clear and compelling narrative of British art within a global context,” said Scott Wilcox, the YCBA’s deputy director of collections, who supervised the team of curators responsible for the reinstallation of works in the collection following the conservation project.
Wilcox added that the restoration of the center represents the return of one of New Haven’s “greatest architectural treasures.”
In the film, YCBA Deputy Director Constance Clement distinguished between the center’s 2013 refurbishment — which focused chiefly on two curatorial departments — and the recently completed project, with its emphasis on addressing the building’s infrastructure issues. Clement highlighted the creation of a conservation plan, which sets forth guidelines for conservators to ensure future renovations remain faithful to Kahn’s vision for the building.
According to Clement, the short film is designed to educate visitors on the historical context of the center’s Kahn-designed building — and Yale’s efforts to conserve it.
“We felt it was important to describe the history of the center and the way in which the curators approached the reinstallation of our outstanding collection of British art,” she added.
The documentary also highlights further additions to the center made during the Conservation Project, such as a painting conservation studio. Though the studio was not included in the initial plan, the film explained, YCBA administrators took advantage of the opportunity to expand the center’s conservation facilities.
George Knight ARC ’95, whose architecture firm served all phases of the conservation project over the course of eight years, also made an appearance in the film, in which he discussed several challenges of the center’s restoration, such as the need to expand sprinkler, security and plumbing systems without degrading the original architecture.
“Beyond the academic and cultural value of the collection, the center serves a respite for the study-weary, a place of visual pleasure and an inspiration for all who visit,” Knight said.