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Home » ARTS AND CULTURE in CT » CONNECTICUT (all topics) » A Very British Art Scene
Inside the Center
A Very British Art Scene

Part 2 - The Yale Centre for British Art, New Haven, CT

By Brian Scott-Smith | December 09, 2014

Previous Article in this Series

One of the many fascinating aspects of the Yale Centre For British Art is its adaptability. Throughout the year it houses not only its permanent collection of paintings and sculpture, but becomes the home for countless other exhibitions and series.

The Adapting The Eye Exhibition

For this alone, one could say, this is another reason why British Art continues to endure, from the early Elizabethan period to highlighting the work of not just British born artists, old and new, but also artists from the rest of the world, who lived and worked in Britain.

And also it’s able to show, in many art forms, the timeline of historic events in British history both domestic and around the world, which in itself is highly valuable.

One of the current exhibitions at the center is a film series called – Adapting The Eye: Perspectives on the court culture of India, which runs until January 2012.

The films, many by Indian directors, explores the court culture of India during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a period of critical transition, when the British were attempting to consolidate power in the Indian subcontinent; giving a fascinating insight into the sophisticated Indian cultural practices of painting, architecture, poetry, dance and music that were a source of fascination to Europeans.

And as Angus Trumble, the Senior Curator of Paintings and Sculpture, puts it, it’s a companion piece to their Johan Zoffany: Society Observed exhibition.

The Johan Zoffany: Society Observed Exhibition

“Johan was a German born painter, who spent much of his time painting English Aristocratic families before travelling to India where he painted Anglo-Indians and Indian Princes for many years.”

“The exhibition looks at the culture and strange collision of English and indigenous Indian artists who cross fertilized to a degree that we didn’t before appreciate. And it was entrusted to a talented graduate student in the art history department here at Yale which is something we like to do as it feeds into their research and nicely elides into our educational mission.”

So what of the future of art and places like the Yale Center? Will the digital age continue to absorb everything around it, rendering the need for institutes like this to history? It’s a question that is on everyone’s lips, but rather than run from the Omnipotent Internet, they choose to embrace it and let it work for them.

The newly revamped website not only has the usual information one would expect of such an acclaimed art center, but they’ve taken the very unusual and risky step of allowing people to download hi-resolution copies of their ‘out of copyright’ art works, that they own, and people can do what they wish with them and for free.

The Central Art Space

“Many people who go through the ugly business of obtaining photographic reproductions know, that museums have traditionally charged a fortune, and made a fuss about permissions.”

“We have set that entire culture to one side in collaboration with other institutions, like the British Museum and a growing number of large museums, who agree with our view, that as public institutions and repositories of collections of historical objects, we are not in the business of preventing the growth of scholarship by charging a fortune.”

It’s a fascinating idea and one that seems to be working, as the center’s website has seen a growth in traffic and downloads as well as renewed interest in their work.

And looking even further in to the future, what of the Center going forward? Trumble is optimistic about that too.

“I think art museums will simply become more special. It’s a little bit like book publishing, despite concern, we’re seeing a continued growth of beautiful books, letter press books, lavish books and I think the book is safe. What we cannot know is how the digital age will affect living artists and what they do with their works and what affect that will have on collectors of the future. So we wait and see. But when it comes to material art the museum is safe I think and the digital age merely brings more people to our doorstep.”


1080 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT 06520

(877) 274-8278


Opening Hours:

Tue - Sat: 10AM to 5PM Sun: noon to 5PM

The Center is closed on Mondays, and on January 1, July 4, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.

Admission: FREE

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