YCBA 2020–2021

Director’s Message

Photographic portrait of women

Photograph by Mara Lavitt

Courtney J. Martin, Paul Mellon Director

Dear Friends:

In the wake of a year marked by closure, isolation, and uncertainty, I am reminded of the power of art museums to offer solace, tell collective stories, inspire understanding, and provoke joy. Through the dedication, flexibility, and ingenuity of my colleagues, the Yale Center for British Art remained active and engaged throughout the pandemic.

I am grateful to our staff who worked from home to implement our new digital initiatives, as well as those who reported onsite, navigating newly implemented safety protocols to ensure the continued care of our building and collection, steward loans, provide academic support, and prepare for our reopening to the public.

Although the museum was open for only twenty-four days during the 2020–2021 fiscal year, we welcomed 4,243 visitors into the galleries; published two books; opened three exhibitions; added more than 200 objects to our collection; presented conversations, films, lectures, panel discussions, and performances; and shared our resources with families, schoolchildren, university students, and visitors from all over the world.

The prolonged closure challenged us to find new ways to connect with our audiences remotely. Our online at home series launched to great success in August 2020 with Rina Banerjee (Yale MFA 1995) as the inaugural speaker. As part of our robust schedule of live discussions, I had the pleasure of speaking with artists Anthony McCall in November 2020 and Njideka Akunyili Crosby (Yale MFA 2011) in June 2021. Recordings of all talks are available for viewing on our website.

Transitioning to online programming allowed us to feature an expanded range of speakers who would not have been able to travel to New Haven for in-person talks, even in ideal circumstances, but were willing and eager to participate from their homes and studios. We were also able to attract a much larger and more diverse audience, with 5,340 attendees tuning in from fifty-seven countries.

At a time when many museums still struggle with pandemic-related losses of revenue, I feel renewed gratitude for the generous endowment established by Paul Mellon (Yale College, Class of 1929), which supports the operating costs of the YCBA. I am thankful for the legacy of our founder as well as that of other individuals and organizations whose support allowed us to rethink our programming, enhance our collections, broaden our audiences, and retain our staff despite the uncertainty of the year. The activities, initiatives, and offerings detailed in this report would not have been possible without them.

—Courtney J. Martin, Paul Mellon Director, Yale Center for British Art

By the Numbers

This report reflects activities between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021.

  • 24days open to the public

  • 4,243in-person visitors to the museum

  • 19in-person visitors to the Study Room

  • 37online programs and prerecorded performances

  • 5,340number of attendees to online programs

  • 57countries from which people attended online programs

  • 15,134followers on Instagram (23% more than previous year)

  • 759collection records added to online database

  • 895,507pages views of YCBA website



In response to pandemic closures and restrictions, the museum offered an impressive series of online talks, lectures, and performances. These at home programs brought a wide range of artists, curators, writers, and other cultural figures into viewers’ homes. In total, the YCBA offered 33 free online programs and four prerecorded performances. More than 5,300 people from 57 countries took advantage of the unique opportunity to visit artist studios, take in interesting conversation, and watch solo performances.

  • Photo of woman with patterned headscarf

    Njideka Akunyili Crosby (Yale MFA 2011), artist, spoke with Courtney J. Martin (Yale PhD 2009), Paul Mellon Director, YCBA. Photo by Shaughn and John

  • Photo of breaded man

    Hew Locke, artist, spoke with Martina Droth, Deputy Director of Research, Exhibitions, and Publications, and Curator of Sculpture, YCBA. Photo by Danny Cozens

  • Photo of woman in painting studio

    Cecily Brown, artist, spoke with Francine Prose, Distinguished Writer in Residence, Bard College. Photo by Mark Hartman

  • Photo of man in front of textile

    Duro Olowu, fashion designer, spoke with Valerie Steele (Yale PhD 1983), Director and Chief Curator of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Photo by Uzoamaka Maduka

  • Photo of woman with green glasses

    Rina Banerjee (Yale MFA 1995), artist, spoke with Rachel Stratton, former Postdoctoral Research Associate, YCBA. Photo by Erin Patrice O’Brien

  • Photo of man in front of painting

    Michael Craig-Martin (Yale BA 1963, MFA 1966), artist, spoke with Anoka Faruqee (Yale BA 1994), Professor and Codirector of Graduate Studies, Yale School of Art. Photo by Caroline True

  • Photo of woman with earrings

    Shirin Neshat, visual artist and filmmaker, spoke with Oksana Chefranova, Associate Research Scholar, Film and Media Studies Program at Yale. Photo by Rodolfo Martinez

  • Photo of woman in front of foliage

    Rachel Rose (Yale BA 2009), artist, spoke with Tom Eccles, Executive Director of the Center for Curatorial Studies and Hessel Museum of Art, Bard College, and Curator at the Park Avenue Armory, and Scott Wilcox (Yale PhD 1984), Deputy Director for Collections, YCBA. Photo by Carl Bigmore

  • Photo of man in blue suit

    Yinka Shonibare CBE RA, artist, spoke with Martina Droth, Deputy Director and Chief Curator, YCBA. Photo by James Mollison



Each year the museum adds to its collection of paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints, photographs, and rare books and manuscripts through gifts and purchases. Below are highlights from the year ending June 30, 2021.

  • Abstract painting

    Katy Moran, Black Bear (detail), 2008, gift of Vanessa Gonzalez Anderson, Yale BA 1992, and Michael Anderson. © The artist and Modern Art, London

  • Painting of people at leisure

    Sir Frank William Brangwyn, Dolce far Niente (detail), 1893, gift of Lois Severini and Enrique Foster Gittes, Yale BA 1961. © David Brangwyn

  • Photo of seated girl

    Charles Lutwidge Dodgson [pseud. Lewis Carroll], printed by Richard Benson, Florence “Flo” Maude Terry (detail), 1865, printed ca. 1980, gift of Barbara Benson and Richard Benson

  • Drawing of historical village

    Thomas Rowlandson, The Recruiter (detail), undated, gift of Paul Lubetkin

  • Photo of train station

    Bill Brandt, Neglected Beauty, the Great Arch of St. Pancras (detail), 1944, gift of Marlborough Gallery, New York. © Bill Brandt Archive

  • Three accordion-fold books

    Hormazd Narielwalla, Diamond Dolls (an artist’s book in three acts), 2021, gift of Emma Hill. © Hormazd Narielwalla, image courtesy Eagle Gallery / EMH Arts, London

  • Painting of seated woman

    Duncan Grant, Seated Woman Reading (detail), ca. 1924, gift of Mitchell Bobkin. © Estate of Duncan Grant. All rights reserved, DACS, London / ARS, New York

  • Watercolor of forest

    Roger Fry, Wooded Glade near St. Tropez (detail), ca. 1922, gift of Mitchell Bobkin

  • Collage with plane

    Nigel Henderson, Untitled No. 79 (detail), between 1960 and 1969, purchased with funds from the bequest of Daniel S. Kalk and the Friends of British Art Fund. © Nigel Henderson Estate / Tate Images

Staff, Students, Volunteers


Despite the challenges posed by the global pandemic, talented staff continued to serve the museum and our community with dedication and resourcefulness. In addition, the YCBA deeply appreciates the students and volunteers who enrich the museum in numerous ways.