“Furniture at the Yale Center for British Art: A Selection” opens to visitors
The exhibition, which opened over the summer, shows the museum’s furniture collection in its Lecture Hall Lobby.
Hedy Tung, Staff Photographer
Over the summer, an exhibition called “Furniture at the Yale Center for British Art: A Selection” went on view at the Yale Center for British Art. The exhibition highlights the Center’s original furniture pieces and will remain open to visitors until Dec. 12.
The exhibition displays furniture pieces as works of art instead of as functional pieces. Architect and interior designer Benjamin Baldwin — in collaboration with architects Louis I. Kahn, Anthony Pellecchia and Marshall Meyers — initially chose the center’s furniture when it opened to the public. This year, YCBA Senior Museum Preparator Rachel Hellerich curated the exhibition using Baldwin’s chosen furniture pieces.
“This exhibition provides the opportunity to remove the furnishings from their functional role and display them together as objects notable for their beauty, construction and modernist design,” said Courtney J. Martin, YCBA Paul Mellon director. “[The pieces] represent the innovation of design that emerged globally in the middle of the 20th century — they perfectly complement the museum’s interior spaces by creating an elegant environment for viewing the art.”
Baldwin included pieces by designers such as Don Chadwick, Ward Bennett and Claud Bunyard. Baldwin also regarded American manufacturers like Herman Miller, Steelcase and CI Designs who shared his interest in functional simplicity.
According to Martina Droth, YCBA deputy director and chief curator, the exhibition was conceived during the pandemic to allow the public to interact with the Center during a prolonged period of closure. The exhibition is on view in the museum’s Lecture Hall Lobby, a space visible from the exterior. The placement allows people to view and engage with the exhibition day or night, without entering the building.
Hellerich said that organizing the show was “complex” since the location was new territory as an exhibition space. It was also challenging due to the team’s limited access to the museum during the pandemic. For Hellerich’s installation department, on-site schedules were limited and on rotation due to COVID-19 guidelines. Additionally, many of Hellerich’s colleagues were working remotely.
“It was very exciting to see this exhibit come to fruition: the display brought fresh light to objects that the museum’s staff and visitors have been familiar with — although not necessarily very knowledgeable of — for over forty years,” Hellerich said. “While the location of the display allows it to be enjoyed at any time of the day, it is especially striking in the evenings. When the space is illuminated from within, it really glows against the cityscape.”
The YCBA opened in 1974.