Yale's Old Campus at dusk
Over its 320-year existence, Yale University has constructed many architecturally significant buildings and developed world-class collections of art, artifacts, library materials, and scientific specimens. Though Yale’s museums—the Art Gallery, the Center for British Art, the Collection of Musical Instruments and the Peabody Museum of Natural History—and its Beinecke Rare Book Library are open to the public, many of the university’s treasures are little-known outside academic circles.
In a four-part series of illustrated presentations, arts journalist and Yale grad Richard Selden offers an overview of Yale’s architecture, art and artifacts, books and documents, and medical and natural-history objects, focusing on outstanding examples in each category. His discussion also touches on controversial issues in collecting and museum practice, including repatriation and racism.
MAR 5 Architecture
Selden recounts the three-century development of Yale’s campus in downtown New Haven, where what was then known as the Collegiate School relocated in 1718. After a discussion of the core 20th-century fabric of the campus—designed by Carrère and Hastings and, beginning in the 1920s, James Gamble Rogers—buildings by modernist masters Gordon Bunshaft, Louis Kahn, Paul Rudolph and Eero Saarinen are examined inside and out.
MAR 12 Art and Artifacts
In addition to a main focus on highlights of the Yale University Art Gallery and the Yale Center for British Art, both designed by Louis Kahn, Selden explores art and artifacts from the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, the Yale Collection of Musical Instruments and the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library. He also covers outdoor sculptures by Alexander Calder, Maya Lin, Isamu Noguchi, Claes Oldenburg, and others.
MAR 19 Books and Documents
The striking architecture of Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book Library, designed by Gordon Bunshaft, is matched by the size and quality of the collection. Selden shares some of Beinecke’s unique holdings, along with rare books in the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library, the Yale Center for British Art, the Yale Law Library, and James Gamble Rogers’ “Cathedral of Learning,” Sterling Memorial Library, home of the Papers of Benjamin Franklin project.
MAR 26 Medical and Natural History Collections
Selden returns to the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library for a look at the specimens assembled by neurosurgeon Harvey Cushing, but the main attraction is the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, closed through 2023 for a $200-million renovation. Top examples of the Peabody’s holdings in the areas of botany, geology, entomology, ornithology, paleontology and zoology are viewed and discussed.
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