With over 1,900 paintings and 100 sculptures, The Yale Center for British Art houses the largest and most comprehensive collection of British art outside the United Kingdom. The collection of paintings‚ sculpture‚ drawings‚ prints‚ rare books‚ and manuscripts reflects the development of British art‚ life‚ and thought from the Elizabethan period onward.
Opened in 1977, the Center is the last museum designed by the great American architect Louis Kahn. It stands across from Kahn’s first major commission, the Yale University Art Gallery. The building’s design, with its natural materials and sky lit galleries, provides a magnificent environment for viewing art. It has been regarded by some as one of Kahn’s finest structures, and has been presented the Twenty Five Year award by the AIA for architecture of enduring significance.
The Center offers a year-round schedule of exhibitions and educational programs‚ including films‚ concerts‚ lectures‚ tours‚ and special events. Among the artists best represented are William Hogarth, Thomas Gainsborough, Joshua Reynolds, George Stubbs, Joseph Wright of Derby, John Constable, and J. M. W. Turner. The Center’s collection ranges from a late-fifteenth-century Nottingham alabaster to paintings and sculpture by such twentieth-century artists as Stanley Spencer, Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson, and, most recently, Rachel Whiteread and Damien Hirst.
The Center’s collection of rare books and manuscripts features nearly 30,000 volumes, including maps, atlases, sporting books, and archival material of British artists.
It is the first museum in the United States to incorporate space for retail shops into its design (the country’s first gift shop!). Be sure to check out the Museum Shop on the street level before you leave. It features a huge selection of books about British Art as well as sort of cool collectibles you’d find if you were in a tourist gift shop in the UK.
The Center is located at 1080 Chapel Street‚ New Haven and is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm and Sunday from noon to 5pm. Admission is free and open to the public, though you may need to be patient to find a parking spot on the street; otherwise you can park in one of the nearby lots for a fee. Check out the websites calendar for a list of tour dates where.
This post was originally published in June 2009 but has been updated for accuracy and style.
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