The Yale Center for British Art has a new director. Courtney J. Martin is a Yale alumnus, returning to New Haven after her tenure as deputy director at the Dia Art Foundation. Now, she’s leading one of the largest repositories for British art in the world, outside of the United Kingdom.
She spoke briefly at a recent open house, hosted to introduce her to the public, thanking the guests for attending, but also, thanking the Indian tribes whose land Connecticut was built upon.
“I would also like to acknowledge the indigenous people and nations...who have stewarded the lands and waterways of what is now the state of Connecticut where we stand,” Martin said. “We honor and respect the enduring and continuing relationship that exists between these peoples of the nations and this land.”
Earlier, Martin expressed her views on the trend of taking photos in museums in an era where museum-goers have become evermore social-media centric, and where many small, independent pop-up galleries have gained tremendous popularity by encouraging their visitors to post images of their experience.
Martin, while appreciating the dedication and interest of museum-goers, is perplexed by the rave of photo-taking.
“I’m confused, what do they do it for, what are the pictures for," she said. "I would love to know what people do with those pictures later. I also find it slightly exciting that people will venture hundreds of miles away from their home just to stand in front of an artwork and take a picture with it. It feels as if that means that art, that its importance, is really there for those people who do that.”
Many museums that had previously prohibited photography in their venues are now allowing, and even promoting it.
The Yale Center for British Art doesn’t restrict photography, and even has a mobile app that allows you to take a virtual tour within the museum.
"I think it’s a really good tool, but it does not replace looking. I think that the only thing you need come to the Yale Center for British Art with is a pair of eyes.” Martin said when asked about the gallery’s new app.
The new director also highlighted the various programs the museum provides for the public and for younger artists, making it clear that the Yale Center for British Art strives to be inclusive and a positive influence in its community.
“We have lectures that are geared towards children, we have activities for children, we also run a program for children with autism. We really are looking widely at the ways we can serve the New Haven community as well as our region here in New England. ”
The Yale Center for British Art is free and open to the public. You can find more information on exhibits at https://britishart.yale.edu.