Courtesy of Ronnie Rysz

This weekend, a year after the Yale Center for British Art first closed its doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the center will once again welcome Yale ID holders for a limited three-day weekend.

During Yale Days, Yale ID holders can visit the center from Friday, Mar. 12 to Sunday, Mar. 14. Visitors can enter from noon to 7 p.m. on Friday and from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. This decision was made in accordance with Yale’s visitor guidelines, which dictates campus access limits to students, faculty and staff. All of the center’s galleries will be open on Yale Days.

According to an announcement issued by the center, guests are encouraged to preregister for timed-entry tickets through the website, but walk-ins will be accommodated according to its limited building capacity.

“Yale Days are an opportunity for Yale ID holders to visit the Center for the first time since fall 2020,” YCBA Director Courtney J. Martin GRD ’09 told the News. “We are excited to have visitors see our collection, as well as special exhibitions — one organized by our student guides — and, of course, the elegant light-filled galleries of our Louis I. Kahn-designed building.”

Martin said that the center’s galleries will operate at 25 percent capacity. To minimize the risk of COVID-19 contamination, visitors will be required to wear face masks and maintain social distancing. Hand sanitizer stations have been installed throughout the center.

The center is closely adhering to federal, state, city and University guidelines to inform its sanitation procedures and operations. According to Martin, museum staff take daily health checks and abide by a strict cleaning schedule with emphasis on sanitizing high-touch surfaces. 

Edward Town, head of collections information and access at the center, emphasized the power and importance of art during a pandemic.

“Art is transformative — it has the power to take us outside of ourselves — something that has happened so rarely during the trials of the last year,” Town said. “As a building, every aspect of the YCBA is carefully calibrated to support the visitor’s encounter with the artwork and while you might not know it from the exterior, the decision to enter the building is instantly rewarded through the experience of the majesty and serenity of the interior.” 

Linda Friedlaender, head of education at the center, described the value of the building’s design. Friedlaender said that architect Louis Kahn’s innovative way of using natural light will invigorate spaces for visitors.

“As you move through the galleries, for many it will be like visiting old friends; for others, it will be a chance to meet new ones,” Friedlaender said.

Martin explained that the center’s staff was particularly eager to reopen the museum to allow people to see a recently-opened student guide exhibition called “Art in Focus: Women From The Center.”

According to Friedlaender, the show displays unique contributions made by undergraduate women during and since their time at Yale. The exhibition, inspired by the 50th anniversary of coeducation at Yale College and the 150th anniversary of coeducation in Yale’s graduate schools, also includes two works by Rina Banerjee ART ’95, a graduate of the Yale School of Art.

The center’s permanent installations present different perspectives reviewing the history of Great Britain, its empire and impact on different cultures. The contemporary objects housed by the center can help scholars and visitors make sense of Britain’s complex relationships with different countries and cultures, contextualizing them in terms of British art produced today, Friedlaender said.

Town is looking forward to visitors being able to view Titus Kaphar’s ART ’06 “Enough About You,” which will debut to visitors on the building’s fourth floor. Kaphar is founder of gallery and art incubator “NXTHVN” in New Haven.

Town said that “Enough About You” responds directly to an 18th-century painting in the center’s collection which depicted the University’s early namesake Elihu Yale in a group portrait that included an enslaved child. Town said that “Enough About You,” a painting that illuminates current socio-political discussions about race, now hangs in place of the 18th-century painting.

Town added that the painting serves as a reminder about the past and present being at “a point of intersection.”

Martin expressed her optimism as more members of the Yale community get vaccinated.

“I look forward to when we are able to welcome all visitors back to campus and the Center, and am eager to visit my other favorite museums, too,” Martin said.

The YCBA is located on 1080 Chapel St. 

Maria Antonia Sendas | mariaantonia.henriquessendas@yale.edu