Tag Archive: Yale University Art Gallery

  1. Art+Projects

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    For the eighth year in a row, Yale School of Drama students have displayed their art in the Yale University Art Gallery. And this year, the exhibit Gallery+Drama brought bright lights, music and vibrant projections to the gallery, to halls full of Greek statues and Dutch paintings.

    Gallery+ was a series of four installations reinterpreting some of the YUAG’s existing works through interactive technologies. The exhibit sought to explore what it means to really engage with art using all of your senses. All four moments worked with pieces from the collection, layering sights and sounds, some subtle and some quite startling, on Rothkos and Pollocks.

    The exhibit began in the Ancient Gallery with “Behind the Whites,” an installation responding to questions like “What’s behind the statues?” and “What happens far away?” A large, two-sided mirror reflected the somber ambiance, standing among ancient Greek pottery, Byzantine mosaics, Egyptian burial masks and grand Roman statues. From a cleverly concealed projector, images of statues in the room and from around the world sprung up, mixing with video footage of gardens and ancients sites where, no doubt, many of the works originated. As I leaned towards the mirror, the projections took on a holographic quality, rapidly distorting and reappearing in varying shades and shadowy forms. The mirror did not show my heart’s true desire, as J.K. Rowling’s Erised would have, but it did serve to “unmask” the statues, revealing a history and emotional context I would otherwise not have discerned.

    The next installation, “Hearing Rothko”, in the Modern Design and Contemporary Gallery, featured two large paintings by Abstract Expressionist Mark Rothko. Two iPads and a set of headphones allowed the viewer/listener/wearer to “experience a personalized soundscape and enter the color-dipped, transformative world of Rothko.” The tablets prompted me to select a number of adjectives describing my initial sensory perceptions of the art. Descriptors like pomegranate, sunset, sunrise and fiery appeared on the screens, each matched with its own music. The two paintings, canvasses bright as the sanguine heat of a passionate blush, came alive with the emotive music flowing into my headphones.

    After the squeaky clean brightness of the Rothko paintings, the “Alphabet City” installation was startling and refreshingly gritty. An exploration of Manhattan’s Lower East Side in the late 1980’s, “Alphabet City” included a projection spiraling on the floor in front of the painting. I stepped on the projection and the “funky” beat, inspired by classic hip hop from the streets of the Bronx, changed and pulsed.

    I had trouble finding the final Jackson Pollock installation, “What does a painting sound like?” I wandered around the third floor before discovering the black gaffer tape arrows on the floor. The arrows led to an elevator leaking an eerie red light, and when opened, an intense crimson wash flooded the hallway. Otherworldly music surrounded me as I entered, and strange sounds slithered around me as the elevator descended. This installation was the most outlandish of them all and I’m still not sure how it related to the tangled, chaotic mass of gray skeins in Pollock’s “Arabesque.”

    Gallery+Drama was an extremely satisfying exhibit. It fit with the existing art seamlessly and provided a refreshing sensory experience. As millennials, we are no longer content with just one artistic medium at a time — we want the music, the video and the motion all at once, and that’s precisely what Gallery+ delivered.

  2. Art Across the Divide

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    Visiting “East of the Wallace Line: Monumental Art from Indonesia and New Guinea” requires something of a trek and directional know-how (in my case, supplied by a friendly Yale University Art Gallery security guard). The exhibit is tucked away into a little fourth-floor gallery; it feels almost like an intrusion to stumble into the intimate, teal-colored room after strolling through breezy white hallways and riding an elevator far too large for one person. Once inside, I am overwhelmed by over 120 objects from the 17th to 19th centuries, ranging from textile to brass to wood so old it no longer looks like wood; they are scattered along the walls and clustered in islands in the open space of the room, much like the scattered East Indies islands depicted in the map at the entrance to the exhibit.

    “East of the Wallace Line” takes its title from the 19th-century British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, who identified a divide — the Wallace Line — between the flora and fauna on two groups of islands in the East Indies. Although Wallace was concerned primarily with the natural world, the exhibit uses his ecological divide as a framework for presenting the artistic culture of peoples who lived in eastern Indonesia and western New Guinea. I almost wish there were examples of art from the other side, a counterpart exhibit called “West of the Wallace Line,” if only to serve as a point of comparison.

    As I shuffle through the gallery, however, it nevertheless becomes apparent that there are plenty of contrasts to work with here — that we have, after all, an exhibit of distinctions within otherwise indistinguishable pairs, and networks of incongruities that perhaps aren’t so incongruous after all. There is, of course, Wallace himself, who independently developed the theory of evolution at the same time as Darwin, though it is Darwin whom we know better. There’s the underlying consciousness of the ecological mechanisms that preoccupied both men, of the diversity of traits individually propagated by the same core laws of evolution — and there is the distinction (and comparison) to be made between ecological and cultural diversity. There are, for the exhibit’s titular emphasis on monumental art — and its examples are captivating, don’t get me wrong — an awful lot of tiny and seemingly mundane (but no less aesthetic, and, in many cases, spiritually resonant) everyday objects ranging from combs to spoons to a woman’s hat. And then there is the exhibit’s assertion that the hodgepodge of cultures represented are somehow united by a single “shared sense of iconography and design.”

    The exhibit does a subtle job of illustrating that our initial perception of these peoples as both physically and culturally isolated is not entirely accurate. It’s true that in the ecological world, physical separation gives rise to divergence, and this would have been the mental framework of Westerners like Wallace who arrived in the region believing it to be cut off from the outside world. We are presented, however, with healthy evidence of trade and exchange. For example, in one corner of the room hangs a particularly vivid shroud, used among the Rongkong Toraja exclusively for wrapping the dead. But when traded off to neighboring peoples, such shrouds took on ceremonial and decorative uses. This is how we start to see a justification for the wide range of objects on display and the coherence in design among different artistic traditions, how huge festival banners of Sulawesi can share the same sense of intricacy as canoe prow ornaments from Cenderawasih Bay. In a pleasantly surprising intersection of ecology and culture, one of the exhibit placards informs the viewer of how bird-of-paradise feathers from the region became a highly sought-after luxury in places as far away as Vietnam. The arrangement of objects themselves about the room is almost haphazard, and the island clusters into which they are seemingly compartmentalized turn out to represent mixes of cultures — masks from Timor are placed near ancestor figures from Flores, curation defined more by aesthetic relationships than by geography. Such adaptations were not only material; we learn also of tribes’ conversions to Christianity and Islam, tribes that still exist to this day. So here we come to perhaps the biggest paradox of all: the relationship between cultural exchange on one hand, and survival or the preservation of identity on the other.

    A friend who accompanied me comments on the pristine condition of the objects on display, despite their age. In the same way, “East of the Wallace Line” reminds us of how cultures and communities can endure after centuries of history; while these objects left behind are now considered relics, their creators shouldn’t be. Before I arrived at “East of the Wallace Line,” I had to walk through another gallery in which a different exhibit was in the process of being taken down; I passed by a workman who was scraping painted letters off the wall into a garbage bag. For me, it was in this context, in a museum and a world in flux, that these objects of wood and textile and age and gravitas took on a strange sense of permanence.

  3. Through Art, South Africa Speaks

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    “I just want to give you what really happens,” says the projected video of Griffiths Sokuyeka, an older black South African man with a skinny face and a lone front tooth. He’s giving a personal tour of the 1820 Settlers’ National Monument, which honors the contributions of English settlers to South Africa. Sokuyeka shares his struggle to find education and work in the midst of South Africa’s political tensions — on one side of the room, that is. On an opposite screen, he’s giving a separate tour, this time to a public audience — he reviews key dates, points out commissioned murals and speaks of the “common motherland.”

    A second man gives his personal and public tours of the Grahamstown Observatory Museum on a separate set of two screens. I check the description of the piece, a little lost in the conflicting and overlapping voices. “Four-channel color projection with sound on 4 HD video projectors and 4 Perspex screens, 18 min., 30 secs.” I let the videos play through again and give the four voices of the two guides another chance to reverberate around me, some of the stories collected, some impassioned — a tortured soundscape that speaks too much, but also perhaps not enough.

    Mikhael Subotzky’s “Moses and Griffiths” is one of several experimental pieces featured at the Yale University Art Gallery’s “Contemporary Art/South Africa” exhibit, open until Sept. 14. Organized by past and current Yale undergraduates and Ph.D. candidates, the display coincides with the 20th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s election. Combining some of Yale’s existing collection with borrowed pieces, it doesn’t pretend to give an overview of contemporary South African artwork. Instead, it offers a crisp and thoughtful representation of three conflicted relationships in South Africa’s recent history: art and politics, personal life and social issues, place and identity.

    These themes are briefly but sufficiently introduced at the beginning of the exhibit, and then the visitor is left to wander through the two-story display. Since multiple issues are often explored in individual pieces, this organization succeeds. But beyond the tensions identified in the exhibit, this collection is really a story of communication: Through contemporary artwork, South Africa can begin to share the stifled trauma of its past and push forward into an optimistic future.

    Barely-muted frustration frequently manifests itself in the exhibit, as in Robin Rhode’s short video “Piano Chair.” The animation presents a man who hammers, burns and hangs a piano. Along another wall, Sue Williamson’s “For Thirty Years next to His Heart” is an arrangement of 49 frames containing photos of passbook pages meant to give proof of employment — some stamped, some bare — which black South Africans were required to carry at all times. These yellowed documents, stretching from floor to ceiling, confront the viewer with the turmoil of apartheid.

    But buried within this tension is an unexpected hopefulness, as in Gary Schneider’s “HandPrint Portraits,” one of the exhibit’s most innovative works. Schneider captured the sweat and heat from South African artists’ hands on film over 10-minute exposure periods. At a glance, the images look like X-rays, and you expect to be able to see straight through to the bone. Instead, in the chilly, metallic image, you find conveyed the warmth of the artist’s touch, a desperate drive to create something beautiful. It is this sort of paradoxical emotional complexity that makes “Contemporary Art/South Africa” a difficult but successfully compelling display.

    As he finishes his personal tour of the Settlers’ Monument, Griffiths recounts that following a fire at his foundation’s building, his employer unjustifiably brought him to the police station. Now, he says, the building has sprinklers installed. Gesturing at his audience with clasped hands, he says that this kind of treatment has made him “aggressive.”

    Still, Griffiths is hopeful for the future. “I love this place,” he says, adding that the employer still owes him an apology.

    There’s not enough here to glean a sweeping sense of this artistic tradition — but in setting out to say just a little, this exhibit says plenty through its complicated, thoughtfully displayed emotional tensions. Just a few pieces are enough to leave visitors thinking about what has been in South Africa, and what could be.

  4. Ask What An Exhibit Can Do For You

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    While the crowd wasn’t too large in the Yale University Art Gallery’s new exhibit  “A Great Crowd Had Gathered: JFK in the 1960s,” it probably should have been. Although the exhibition itself is small — just one room with fewer than two dozen photographs — it succeeds in telling the story of John F. Kennedy as a cultural icon, both alive and in his memory.

    Tucked away in a corner on the gallery’s fourth floor, the exhibit space is characterized by different shades of blue — the Democratic Party color — and sleek, gray writing. A timeline runs above the photographs, listing important events that occurred in relation to Kennedy’s impact across the ’60s. The timeline serves as a guide to how the exhibit should be viewed, and following my natural inclination, I began by viewing the image below the “1960” label.

    The first work may have been the most powerful. Garry Winogrand’s “John F. Kennedy, Democratic National Convention, Los Angeles” focuses on Kennedy’s broad back as he is televised. Though the image does not directly capture the audience — all of America on TV — the vast presence, and power, of the unseen multitudes is clearly felt. In the foreground of the image, a television behind Kennedy’s legs presents his face so that the viewer sees the man in the same way as a supporter of the time would have seen him. We thus become a part of the unseen, yet implied, audience. A modern viewer with knowledge of the violence that awaits Kennedy, however, would describe the work as having a foreboding undertone, but I believe that at the time it would have been received as a hopeful image. The bright light of the television camera could be seen as illuminating a path for change.

    Continuing through 1961 and 1962, images of Kennedy’s supporters hang under announcements of the major events that characterized his presidency — the Bay of Pigs, the announcement of his plan to put a man on the moon, the Cuban Missile Crisis.

    The images of 1963 range from the expected — photographs from the fatal assassination in Dallas and of Lyndon Johnson’s taking the oath next to Jackie Kennedy — to more intimate, poignant pictures of the constituents he left behind.

    One particularly striking photograph by Diane Arbus depicts Marguerite Oswald, the assassin’s mother. The image, which ran in Esquire Magazine, presents a woman dressed in every way to appear put together and refined, but to me the effort seemed contrived and as a result, lacks believability. Juxtaposed with Jackie Kennedy’s elegance, the portrait is jarring. In a style typical of Arbus, Marguerite’s vulnerability shines through. The inclusion of this piece in an exhibit devoted to Kennedy may seem counterintuitive — even potentially insulting — but in examining the multiple dimensions of Kennedy’s role as a cultural icon, the image captures the mystique surrounding his complicated narrative as one extending beyond the individual.

    Interestingly, Kennedy’s involvement with Vietnam is absent from the exhibit. But given the limited size of the space, perhaps depictions of his involvement with and the fallout from the war throughout the decade would have been too overwhelming.

    The final image leaves the viewer with a sense of hope. At the John F. Kennedy Space Center, a crowd is gathered with their eyes toward the sky, their arms waving at something outside the frame. With the 1969 moon landing, one of Kennedy’s long-reaching goals is accomplished. In the foreground, a woman who is turned away from the crowd is taking a photograph of her own.

  5. Vanni exhibit opens at YUAG

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    An exhibition showcasing works by late Renaissance artist Francesco Vanni opened at the Yale University Art Gallery last Friday.

    “Francesco Vanni: Art in Late Renaissance Siena” was inspired by the gallery’s 2003 acquisition of one of Vanni’s most famous compositions: “The Madonna della Pappa,” which depicts a moment of rest during the Holy Family’s flight to Egypt. By showcasing works from different stages of Vanni’s career, the exhibit traces his evolution as an artist. The exhibit also displays some of Vanni’s works at various stages of their development, which allows viewers to form a holistic impression of Vanni’s artistic opus, said exhibit curator Suzanne Boorsch.

    “We took special care to include next to all of the labels for preparatory drawings,“ Boorsch said. “We believe that if a viewer is able to see how the figures in the preparatory drawing eventually fit into the final work, then the experience of looking at, and the understanding of, the drawing is greatly enhanced.”

    Boorsh said that Vanni’s art employs symbols relevant to the Counter-Reformation age in Europe.

    “Counter-Reformation art emphasized the mystical and the visionary; strong interest in iconography and in “correct” depictions of holy events; an almost “archaeological” interest in establishing the history and foundations of the Church,” Boorsch said, adding that Vanni’s art was instrumental in exploring the iconography of saints such as Catherine of Siena.

    All exhibition atendees interviewed said they appreciated the curator’s decision to display Vanni’s progress as an artist by displaying works from his early years as well as from his career’s more advanced stages. They also said they enjoyed observing Vanni’s collaborative projects with other Renaissance artists, some of which were featured in the exhibit.

    Art Gallery visitor Allison Mahoney said she thought the best part of the exhibit was “witnessing the process Vanni [went] through in creating each piece.”

    “You can see the amount of work that went into each study and the different interpretations he examined before coming to his final conclusion,” she said.

    In collaboration with the Whitney Humanities Center, the Gallery will screen films that explore themes relevant to Vanni’s art and the Renaissance period in general, such as Roberto Rossellini’s “Flowers of St. Francis,” Carol Reed’s “Agony and the Ecstasy” and Derek Jarman’s “Caravaggio.”

    “I love the fact that the museum is making this exhibit into a full experience,” said Matt Mattia ’17, who attended the exhibit.

    “Francesco Vanni: Art in Late Renaissance Siena” will close on Jan. 5, 2014.

  6. The Vibrancy of Gray

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    Leaning perilously over the display at the Yale University Art Gallery, the boy wasn’t quite sure what to make of artist Mona Hatoum’s quaint crystal orbs.

    “They’re grenades, honey,” his father said perplexedly, reading the description of Hatoum’s piece, titled “Nature morte aux grenades.” Upon closer inspection, what I had imaginatively taken for pomegranates protruding wartlike across a hospital gurney proved, indeed, to be grenades. The three of us clustered awkwardly on one side of the gurney, staring expectantly at the little bulbs as though waiting for them to either explode or explain themselves. Silence ensued as before.

    A guard nearby, coming suddenly to life from totemic stillness, shifted towards our company. I glanced at the child’s fingers, which had probably strayed too close for comfort and were now to be chastised. Instinctively, I stepped back, recalling with unfortunate clarity being criticized for touching museum pieces I ought not to be touching. We fixed ourselves like the grenades on the gurney, willing our bodies safely away from the art. It was the guard, though, of ursine proportions and with hands the size of Frisbees, who seemed more likely to crush the collection.

    But when he spoke, it was not, as I had thought, to usher us aside. “This is one of my favorite pieces,” the guard said. We looked at him, taken aback, as he proceeded to explain the work and the artist’s history. He was, clearly, no tour guide. Still, he continued as though he were, animatedly evincing a knowledge of the art more encyclopedic than I would ever have imagined from one whose task it was to stand by and secure art, not study it. First fruit had become firearm, and now security guard had become scholar. The guard’s name, he said, was Jerry Gray.


    After 14 years of renovations, the Yale University Art Gallery reopened in December 2012 to fanfare from visitors and journalists alike. Heralded as “magnificent” by The New Yorker, the YUAG was praised for its balanced collections that feature not only marquee pieces like Van Gogh’s “Night Café,” but also smaller, unexpected works by artists both famous and forgotten.

    The YUAG’s attention to the small and unexpected filters down to its security agents. Although Gray is a notable example, he isn’t the only guard who has taken more than a passing interest in the gallery’s offerings.

    Visitors to the gallery have noticed the guards’ excitement. One wrote in a letter, “Typically, the security in museums big and small [is] more like the statuary they protect. The enthusiasm I felt when I left your museum was due in no small part to their enthusiasm for the museum, too.”

    Gray insists he doesn’t know as much as I thought he did about the gallery. He says he’s studied a bit (“I did a little reading”), favors contemporary art (“Sol LeWitt and Pollock”) but also goes for the classical ­— in other words, his is an interest no more remarkable than that of your average amateur, he seemed to assert. Still, it’s hard to imagine LeWitt or Pollock preferring a viewer told by textbooks and lecturers to venerate their works over one like Gray, who has come to art of his own accord.

    “People are floored that I know things about the art,” he said, with a touch of pride. “But if I’m interested in it, I’m going to learn about it.” I pointed out that not everybody takes such initiative, and he shrugged. “That’s just how I am.”

    Despite his familiarity with many of the works in the gallery, Gray claims that he doesn’t have a favorite piece. Shaking his head, chuckling and shrugging his massive shoulders, he said that he loves “all the art.”

    “I love working in the Trumbull gallery,” he conceded. When I asked why, he widened his eyes, surprised that I didn’t know. Gray explained that Trumbull, a Harvard graduate, agreed to display his collection in the Yale galleries only under the condition that he and his wife be buried beneath his portrait of George Washington. It’s one story among many Gray likes to share with the people passing through his watch.

    Gray might be oversized, but there is no doubt that he is exactly where he belongs at the YUAG. Towering sturdily over his painted wards, he could be art himself, an ambitious artist’s exploration of the majesty in bulk and brawn. A sculptor might labor to make his face as full and self-assured as in life, to painstakingly chisel the manifold pleats and tucks in his cheeks that deepen when his lips let loose a smile.

    Gray is the kind of person around whom you feel either very safe or very scared, depending on your side of the law. As important as art has become to him, apparent in his largeness is that something else has held his heart far more tightly, and for far longer: football.


    Gray has spent the past 17 of his 45 years coaching football. Next year, he is poised to be the defensive coordinator of a new minor league pro team in Connecticut, the New Haven Venom. The day after he interviewed for the job, he was hired.

    “I am very, very good at coaching,” Gray said. It wasn’t bragging, just affirmation of what he knew to be fact. His tone left no room for doubt. “I’m going to coach till the day I die.”

    It’s a passion that has been fermenting since he started playing at the age of 5. Football became his “saving grace,” a place of comfort from a host of anger management problems. Gray’s father, a former football player himself, encouraged his burgeoning interest in the sport.

    That he was right for athletics became immediately apparent. As a child, he once “tackled a high school guy who weighed 270 pounds.” Unable to stop myself, I asked him how much he weighed at the time, as by his own admission, Gray was “always big.”

    “I wasn’t 270, I know that,” he responded grimly. “But I went at him hard. … I had no fear.”

    In Gray’s adolescence, a number of coaches noticed his talent. The first, Ron Carbone, a high school coach from Hamden, recruited him when he was only 12. Big and fast, Gray made an impression on each who saw him play.

    He seemed disarmingly nonchalant about the injuries he received on the field. “My mother was fine with football. It was actually my father that freaked out” about Gray’s bruises and bumps, he said. In high school, he rolled his ankle. Then, playing defensive lineman for Western Connecticut State College, he broke his neck, a fact he revealed only after I pressed him further. He broke his neck — then continued to play.

    “I lay on the ground, screaming,” recalled Gray. “I knew my career was over. Then I got up, said nothing to the coach, and kept playing.”

    The accident left the entire right side of his body partially paralyzed, and Gray, unwilling to acknowledge the end, became a left-handed player. “Luckily, I’m [naturally] left-handed,” he said, although his resulting condition would take its toll on him by the end of the season. Gray explained that he had gone to college solely to play football as the only freshman starter in New England’s Independent Division 3. In the permanent, jarring absence of the sport that had first saved him, then ruined him, he lost all motivation to finish his education. Gray came home and went to work at a dry cleaner’s.


    In May 2011, after Gray crossed the stage at Albertus Magnus College to receive his diploma, the first thing he did was hold it skyward. Absent from the audience was his father, who had died of cancer four years ago.

    “That moment changed everything,” he said. “It destroyed me.”

    After his stint at the dry cleaner’s, Gray had been flitting between jobs, eventually entering the security business when a friend pointed out his size would be an asset in that industry. Still, he recalled a promise to his father to complete his education. Eleven months after his father’s death, Gray enrolled at Albertus Magnus. He received his associate’s degree in business management from its New Dimensions program, which allows students to simultaneously pursue their careers and attend school.

    He chose to continue his studies at Arizona State University last year, but had to return home after developing soft-tissue sarcoma, losing the entire left side of his chest in surgery. Back in New Haven, he sought work in security once more, learning about an opening at the YUAG. Gray impressed with his friendliness and excitement for the job, said Joshua Ramirez, his current supervisor, and he was hired.

    In the six months Gray has been at the YUAG, his excitement has only bloomed. “People tell me, ‘You should be a tour guide!’”, he said, though he has no plans to apply.

    Gray doesn’t think his position at the New Haven Venom will require him leaving the gallery, “but if it does, it does,” he said. Then he paused, seeming to reconsider. “I don’t know. … I like it here. I like everything about this place.”


    Ramirez said his staff dissuades the guards from overstepping their responsibilities as security agents. “We don’t want to infringe on our [visitors’] experience,” he added.

    But visiting an art gallery is in itself an infringement — on expectations. The experience of viewing art is necessarily a displacement of assumptions about color, perspective, form, composition. Verisimilitude, even in the exact sketch of a subject’s plump form or a gnarled tree branch, is only ever a coincidence. If in art audiences sought only the quotidian, the seen and foreseen, creators might set down their tools; real life would suffice. Art succeeds most when it challenges us.

    At the YUAG, the gauntlet has been thrown. There, art is a crystal pomegranate that becomes a grenade. From 9:15 a.m. to 5 p.m., art is a security guard named Jerry Gray who becomes a storyteller.

  7. Inside the YUAG, VIP-Style

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    Last Thursday, I walked into the Yale University Art Gallery, put my stuff away in a safe, introduced myself to the fellows of my residential college and, while waiting for the rest of our party to arrive, sort of jumped around in my head out of excitement for what I was about to see. Maybe the other students and fellows were jumping along in their heads with me. (Quiet elderly gentleman with the glasses, I saw the twinkle in your eyes. Definitely a jumper.)

    After all, we had different reasons to be excited for this private tour of the almost-complete gallery. Some of us might have been pre-renovation YUAG regulars who wanted to see the transformation in architecture, others might have been curious about the 180-year-old gallery’s new collections and, well, some of us might have helped pay for the project. (Quiet elderly gentleman, is your name somewhere on this building?) Personally, I was there to check out the new displays, smell some fresh paint and bask in the glory of being a VIP with behind-the-scenes access for an afternoon — the works.

    We were led on a whirlwind promenade through the new space, a seamless stroll through three different phases of architecture: the old Yale Art Gallery, Street Hall and the Louis Khan Building. The transitions from building to building were remarkably smooth and barely noticeable. (To be honest, I had to rely on looking out of the windows to the street at various parts of the tour to orient myself as I made my way around the place. It’s just so big. I caught drafts for maps on the walls, though. Exhales all around, right?)

    We were also going at a pace much faster than that of a traditional day at a museum, just to get a general idea of the finished structure. There was no time to stop to look at individual collections, but here’s a preview: I’m talking about a new Indo-Pacific art installation, 19th-century ceilings taken out of Manhattan mansions, a twist on stained-glass windows, long-stored collections on display for the first time, eggplant-color walls, yet another Sol LeWitt wall drawing, a new elevator and staircase (made of frosted glass or some other equally fun material), iPads, skylights and more. A personal favorite of mine was the Modern and Contemporary Art section. With a couple of paintings rearranged and a couple added on, I found that the collection became an entirely new, even richer experience. It also left me wondering about other museums that had to return some of their blockbuster paintings to us. Sorry we’re not sorry.

    “You know, this will put the Art Gallery on the map for sure,” said a Jonathan Edwards Fellow standing next to me at the end of the tour. Yes, it will. You better be there on Dec. 12 — take a friend, make them feel shitty about their room décor.