Yale Center for British Art Deputy Director Constance Clement retires after four decades

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Yale Center for British Art Deputy Director Constance Clement retires after four decades
Constance (Cecie) Clement, Yale Center for British Art, photo by Beatrix Roeller.

NEW HAVEN, CONN.- Constance (Cecie) Clement, the Center’s longtime deputy director, will be retiring at the end of this month. Clement started her distinguished career at Yale when she joined the American Arts department at the Yale University Art Gallery as a curatorial assistant in 1971. Following a three-year assignment in the Museums and Historical Organizations Program at the National Endowment for the Humanities, Clement began her tenure at the Yale Center for British Art in 1979. She was hired by Director Edmund P. Pillsbury and has worked for every director of the Center since it opened to the public. She has also served as interim director on three occasions.

“We congratulate Cecie and wish her the best in retirement. I am indebted to her for her guidance and good counsel, as well as her steadfast devotion to the Center. Cecie’s expertise was especially crucial during the recent conservation of the Kahn building, a project she helped plan and manage. She will be greatly missed by our entire community,” says Director Courtney J. Martin.

Clement decided to pursue a career in museums thanks to inspiring art history teachers in high school and college, as well as internships at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Tate. In her initial role as an assistant director at the Center, she focused on the public dimension of the museum, including publications and publicity, exhibitions and programs, and membership and special events. Clement also administered the Center’s docent and visiting fellowship programs. Over the years, she has mentored many students, some of whom have gone on to pursue careers in museums.

In 2003, at the request of Director Amy Meyers, Clement turned her attention to the conservation of the Center’s landmark building, designed by Louis I. Kahn (1901– 1974). Together with the London-based architects Peter Inskip and Stephen Gee, Clement crafted a building conservation plan, published by the Center in association with Yale University Press in 2011. The first of its kind in the United States, this stewardship document is intended to guide the future care and conservation of Center’s internationally recognized building.

Following the policies set forth in the conservation plan, and in collaboration with Knight Architecture, LLC, Yale Office of Facilities, and Turner Construction Company, Clement worked on the rehabilitation of the Lower Court, the creation of an imaging room for X-radiography and infrared reflectography of the Center’s collection of paintings and works of art on paper, the refurbishment of two curatorial departments, and the 2015– 16 building-wide conservation project that included the renewal of the public galleries and Lecture Hall, a significant upgrade of the Center’s infrastructure, and improvements to fire protection, security systems, and accessibility. The latter was the most extensive building project ever undertaken by the museum.

In addition to her service to Yale, Clement has served on numerous boards, including the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), New England Museum Association (NEMA), Hill-Stead Museum, and American Friends of Attingham.

Looking back on her time at the Center, Clement says, “I will miss my incredible colleagues and collaborators and the joy of working in one of the great buildings of the twentieth century.”

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