hollowneck

Yale British Museum of Art

I just noticed ( and was somewhat stunned) to note that there was no mention on this forum about the superb "Spreading Canvas" exhibition at the Yale British Museum of Art. Unfortunately, this exhibit closes December 4, just a few days away from this posting.

 

I live nearby to New Haven, CT and it was easy for me to visit the FREE exhibition - twice! Although the exhibit was focused on painters of maritime subjects (in the U.K. or about U.K. subjects), there are three (3) superb models on display - more than I saw a couple years ago at the London Science Museum! The painters are iconic - all, including Van DeVeldes, elder and younger, Serres, Pocock, Scott, Constable, even an early J.W.W. Turner - to mention just a handful.

 

The first item that greets you at the exhibit space is a model of the HMS Coronation, a 1/4"-scale monster, fully-rigged 2nd Rate from the Kriegstein Collection. Another Kriegstein model on loan for the exhi bit is the HMS Lion, a true (and very early) "Dockyard Model." Lastly, the HMS Centurian is from the NMM in Greenwich, U.K. This fully-rigged model is especially amazing; all are stunning, but this one is on par with the HMS Burford at the Mystic collection.

 

I attempted to take some photos (both visits) but the policy is no photography and they aggressively enforce it. I guess the curators don't want you to steal the soul of the exhibition. :huh:

 

More likely reason for the photo embargo is the following (commercial) tip:

 

There is an excellent full-color and large hardcover book available for the exhibition: "Spreading Canvas." This is a wonderful reference and it is now in my personal reference library (alongside Seawatch's Kriegstein Collection). The book is well-written and edited, copiously graphic with all artwork/painting/engraving items shown in decent size (with other artworks not shown at Yale). Good printing and binding quality, Better be! $70 at the shop, $75 on line.

 

Sorry this wasn't posted earlier, understanding that only a handful of MSW members would be able to go to the Yale campus in New Haven, Connecticut. There are some details at the museum's web site:

 

http://britishart.yale.edu/exhibitions/spreading-canvas-eighteenth-century-british-marine-painting

 

Ron

 

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cog, Mark P, Archi and 5 others like this

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I'm sorry that this exhibition was not better (or more widely) advertised. I note that it has been open since mid September!! Well, thanks for making us aware of what we've missed, Ron. The book looks interesting.

mtaylor and cog like this

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Druxey,

 

Indeed. It was open for most of the fall. I only learned about it about a month ago and I apologize to all MSWers that I neglected to post on here sooner. The museum was significantly "upgraded" a couple years ago and they also kept that fact under wraps.

 

At the end of the day, museum management would be wise to consider having a communications/pr firm - or a staffer - to get this vital job done. Unfortunately, Yale British is like many other small museums (especially those affiliated with University's and Colleges) and has little interest in promoting its existence to the public. A shame, eh?

 

I do recommend the book. A little pricey, but well done and a thorough overview. In fact, I think I'm going to pitch the NRG to do a review. Being mostly "art" it's somewhat tangential to our crafting interests, but there is significant historical maritime history as well as extensive illustrations and pictorials that members might appreciate.

 

Ron

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At the end of the day, museum management would be wise to consider having a communications/pr firm - or a staffer - to get this vital job done. Unfortunately, Yale British is like many other small museums (especially those affiliated with University's and Colleges) and has little interest in promoting its existence to the public. A shame, eh?

 

I worked for a small museum for about 12 years and while we had some marketing in the early years of my tenure, there was never a budget for it and it was never a priority for senior staff. Over the years, I came to realize why. Visitors don't contribute much, if anything, to the ongoing cost of keeping a museum open. They may be the stated reason for a museum's existence, but visitation fees don't come close to paying all the bills. Many if not most museums rely predominantly on major donors for support. Exhibitions keep curators busy and show the donors that the museum is performing its "function" as a museum open to the public. But you can hardly expect a free exhibit to support the institution. So, really, there's little point in marketing to potential visitors because there's almost no return on the investment. Most of the "marketing" is done to potential and existing donors who will ultimately pay to keep the lights on.

 

Cheers -

John

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Ron - sadly, I didn't make it due to kid commitments, but I have the book on my Xmas list...assuming its getting a good review? :) 

 

John - similar comments, its maybe less a comment on the business side of the museum to what a museum should be in an ideal world.  Just a shame that these days the 'public' is not really a target for museum activities, and seems a bit of an 'executive toy' to be the big donors.

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Jason,

Better late than never! I did give the Spreading Canvas Book/catalog a good review. I'm not certain when the NRG Journal will publish it.

 

A note on museum marketing (John): Yale is very good at promoting it's academic prowess, especially its excellent music school. Their excellent museums, not so much. The Yale Center For British Art has robust, eternal funding (Paul Mellon, the billionaire/philanthropist is the principal benefactor). The Center remains free to the public since it's founding in 1966. Likewise, Yale University's main art museum is ALSO free, although they do encourage one to make a contribution. Neither of these world-class institutions need money to remain open. Indeed, marketing (PR) in the case of Yale's museums should be their vibrant connection to community, a service for the benefit of all who love and support museums: in my mind, there is no reason why Yale management couldn't find a few shekels in an effort to better promote their treasures. Given Yale's endowments (second only to Harvard's), I think this could be likened to change left in the couch cushions. I know, this is where one might suggest something else is at play here: could it be "elitism?" :huh:

Ron

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