Even as the Yale University Art Gallery and Yale Center for British Art remain shuttered amid the global coronavirus pandemic, the institutions have bulked up their online presence to bring their resources to the general public.

In response to concerns about the spread of COVID-19, the YUAG and YCBA announced their temporary closures earlier this month. The YUAG cancelled all public programs through April 30, including class visits and both guided and self-guided school and community group tours. Along with canceling all tours through April, the YCBA closed its study room and reference library until further notice. Yet both institutions have made several online resources available.

Courtney J. Martin, director of the YCBA, said that like all museums across the world, the center is revising exhibition and event schedules.

“Art is always important, but in moments of uncertainty art can provide needed assurance,” Martin said. “A favorite painting, for example, can be a great comfort on one of the seemingly endless days that we are enduring.”

Martin said that a “stand-out” oil painting in the YCBA’s collection, George Stubbs’ “Zebra,” was recently reconceived as a coloring book plate. “This is a fun take on our collection as well as one of the ways that we continue to engage and educate our audience while we are out of the building,” she said.

The “Zebra” coloring book plate is part of the YCBA’s “Color our Collections” project, which allows online audiences to download a coloring book version of the YCBA’s artwork. Audiences creatively engage with the artwork using crayons or Adobe Illustrator Draw. The YUAG’s similar initiative, called “Coloring Book,” was originally launched in 2004 in collaboration with Yale students.

In addition, both the YCBA and the YUAG made their entire collections accessible to the public online.

The YUAG’s mobile app, available on both Apple’s app store and desktop computers, offers an audio guide for the gallery’s collections with input from curators, scholars, conservators, students and artists. The YCBA’s mobile app, available on the same platforms, offers users an audio guide to both works in the collection and the building’s architectural history.

The YUAG’s YouTube channel contains about 200 lectures and programs previously held at the museum. The most recent videos feature the gallery’s current installation of Japanese surimono prints, the exhibition “Reckoning with ‘The Incident’: John Wilson’s Studies for a Lynching Mural” and lectures discussing the current exhibition “James Prosek: Art, Artifact, Artifice.”

Alongside its YouTube channel, the YCBA also has a video archive on its website, which includes video recordings of gallery talks, lectures, behind the- scenes and films. The center also features an object from its collection on the website each week.

Heather Nolin, the YUAG’s deputy director for exhibitions, programming and education said the gallery’s additional online resources include the Rhode Island Furniture Archive, Ross Archive of African Art and Sack Family Archive. She added that the YUAG’s SoundCloud channel hosts most of their audio guide content, and JSTOR has copies of the gallery’s past bulletins.

The museum has also established various online exhibitions. Nolin pointed to a recent gallery-curated website dedicated to the work of photographer Robert Adams and an interactive online exhibition about the excavation of an ancient Roman city, Dura-Europos.

Nolin noted that the YUAG is developing additional content, such as virtual tours. However, these projects are in early stages of development, and she could not provide specific information. YCBA’s Senior Associate of Communications and Marketing Ronnie Rysz said the center’s new virtual content is also being developed through their various social media channels.

Both the YUAG and YCBA have active social media platforms on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


Freya Savla | freya.savla@yale.edu