Stephanie Wiles, the current director of Cornell’s Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, will serve as the next director of the Yale University Art Gallery, University President Peter Salovey announced Wednesday afternoon in an email to the Yale community.
“Stephanie brings a wealth of experience directing university art museums,” Salovey wrote. “And I am confident she will lead our gallery — one of Yale’s gems — with insight, imagination, and wisdom.”
Wiles will succeed Jock Reynolds, who has directed the gallery since 1998 and will step down on June 30. Wiles’ term will begin on July 1.
Wiles will arrive in her new role with more than 20 years of experience leading university and college museums. She began her career at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City, and later served in leadership positions at museums at Wesleyan University, Oberlin College and most recently as director of the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell.
Over the course of her career, Salovey said, the “respected ambassador for the arts” has supported new initiatives; forged partnerships with faculty, students and staff across university campuses; and found “imaginative ways” to engage with diverse audiences.
During her tenure at Cornell, Wiles sought to increase the museum’s contributions to the university’s academics and under her leadership the museum secured multiple grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, making possible eight new interdisciplinary courses. Wiles oversaw the completion of innovative new art works such as “Cosmos,” a site-specific light sculpture by Leo Villareal ’90, which is named in honor of Carl Sagan and is a popular campus attraction. Wiles also championed a redesign of the museum’s permanent collection galleries and nearly doubled the number of objects on view year-round within the permanent collection.
As a young curator, Wiles told the News, she took the train from New York to New Haven to visit the YUAG.
“I’m particularly excited by the Gallery’s impressive complex of newly-renovated buildings and beautifully reinstalled collections, completed under the remarkable leadership of Jock Reynolds,” she said. “I’m looking forward to meeting as many Yale students as possible and to learning more about their ideas of what the Museum is and could be for them.”
Salovey said Wiles’ knowledge and expertise will be “invaluable” as the University seeks to integrate the arts more deeply into its mission of “research, education, and practice.” As director of the YUAG, Wiles will oversee not only the gallery’s collections but also the Nolen Center for Art and Education, which employs undergraduate students as gallery guides and graduate students as Wurtele Gallery teachers.
Noah Stevens-Stein ’18, who has worked as a gallery guide since 2015, said he is “thrilled” that Wiles has extensive experience directing other university museums. YUAG Chief Curator and Curator of European Art Laurence Kanter said he and his colleagues at the museum are “looking forward” to Wiles’ arrival.
“The Yale University Art Gallery, with its Nolen Center for Art and Education, offers superb opportunities for using the university’s magnificent collections to launch conversations and foster discoveries across disciplines,” Salovey said in his email. “With twenty years of experience in academic settings, Stephanie appreciates the gallery’s extraordinary role in enriching teaching and learning on our campus.”
Salovey said that Wiles shares his vision “of connecting the arts to many Yale activities.” In particular, he pointed to Wiles’ service on committees aimed at introducing art and art-making to Cornell Tech, a science-focused graduate school in New York City.
The search advisory committee in charge of finding the new director was chaired by art history professor Mary Miller and included, among others, History of Art Department Chair Tim Barringer and John Walsh ’61, a member of the YUAG’s advisory board and director emeritus of the J. Paul Getty Museum.
The committee began working with recruitment firm Korn Ferry to search for a new director after Reynolds announced his plans to retire in February 2017. Salovey thanked Reynolds for his leadership, saying he served with “distinction, energy, and originality.” Reynolds will take a “well-deserved sabbatical” once he steps down as director this summer, Salovey wrote.
Established in 1832, the YUAG is the oldest college art museum in the United States, and its collections include more than 200,000 objects.
Chloe Glass | firstname.lastname@example.org