Yale University Art Gallery

New Haven
CT

The renovated Art Gallery comprises three structures — Street Hall, the Old Art Gallery building, and the Kahn building. Below, John Trumbull and contemporaries.

QUICK FACTS
  • The original neoclassical Picture Gallery had two large skylit rooms on the upper floor for the display of art. The north gallery was devoted to Trumbull’s paintings; the south gallery displayed paintings by other artists, including John Smibert, Ralph Earl, and Samuel F.B. Morse.
  • When collection in the Picture Gallery moved to Street Hall in 1867, the original building served as office space until it was demolished in 1901.
  • John Trumbull and his wife are buried in a stone tomb beneath the Old Art Gallery.
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Home to one of the finest collections of early American art anywhere, the Yale University Art Gallery was founded in 1832 when John Trumbull gave more than one hundred of his portraits and historical paintings to Yale and designed a Picture Gallery for them. It is the oldest university art museum in the western hemisphere.

In December 2012 the Yale University Art Gallery reopened to the public after completing a ten-year renovation and expansion. It comprises three structures — Street Hall (1866), the Old Art Gallery building (1928), and the modernist and magnificent Louis Kahn building (1953).

The art of Trumbull and his contemporaries and other early American art are located in Street Hall (the building designed by Trumbull was razed in 1901).

Associated People

Visitors to Monticello often wonder at its practical accessories. Jefferson labored a month to save a minute. His home was impractical from the start — by reason of its very site (on a mountain), by the height given the first version of the building (later disguised in a way that left useless spaces in and around its dome), by the perpetual course of its dismantling and reassembly. To make the house more convenient, he made his daughter and her children live for years in a chaos of artistic second thoughts, sometimes sheltered only by canvas as the roof rose, fell, and assumed new shapes in his mind.

Garry Wills
Inventing America: Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence (1978)