Announcement – Courtney J. Martin

February 8, 2024

Dear Members of the Yale Community,

I write to share the bittersweet news that Courtney J. Martin, the Paul Mellon Director of the Yale Center for British Art (YCBA), has accepted an appointment as the executive director of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. She will lead the YCBA until June 30, 2024.

Dr. Martin joined the YCBA in 2019, but her relationship with Yale was long established by then. She earned her doctorate in the history of art at Yale in 2009 and contributed to the YCBA’s award-winning 2007 exhibition, “Art and Emancipation in Jamaica.”

A strategic, visionary leader, she has strengthened the YCBA over the past five years and set it on a trajectory for even greater accomplishments. Dr. Martin oversaw several exhibitions. Notably, in 2022, she brought to the center the first retrospective of Bridget Riley’s paintings in the United States in over twenty years. It was wholly conceived and implemented during the pandemic. This exhibition was a huge success. It welcomed thousands of visitors when it opened in 2022 and received a robust critical response including a review in the New York Times. She also presented Marc Quinn: History Painting + and The Hilton Als Series: Njideka Akunyili Crosby, which toured to the Huntington Library in San Marino, California.

During Dr. Martin’s time at the YCBA, she increased educational opportunities for students and scholars. She oversaw the establishment of a Henry Moore Foundation Artist in Residence program for Yale School of Art students and a new joint postdoctoral fellowship with the National Gallery of Art’s Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts.

In 2023, Dr. Martin implemented the next phase of conservation of the YCBA’s iconic modernist building, designed by architect Louis Kahn. The project focuses on exterior improvements, including the replacement of the museum’s roof and its 224 domed skylights, as well as significant upgrades to the gallery lighting system. These physical improvements serve as a symbol of Dr. Martin’s commitment to the future of the YCBA’s landmark building and the safeguarding of its collections for generations to come. The YCBA will reopen in April 2025 with a reconceived installation of its collection and special exhibitions of Tracey Emin and J. M. W. Turner.

Dr. Martin’s leadership of the YCBA overlapped with the challenging years of the COVID pandemic. She developed new ways to fulfill the institution’s mission of being an art museum, even though the building’s doors were closed to the public for a period of time and reopened in March 2022. She designed the YCBA’s first remote public program with the launch of at home: Artists in Conversation and Architects in Conversation: To Build for Art. Since its inception, this program has engaged with more living artists than at any other point in the museum’s history.

Dr. Martin has brought great energy and high achievement to her role as director of the YCBA. She plans to complete several projects before her departure in June. I will soon initiate an international search for her successor. Our community will also celebrate all that she has accomplished later this semester. In the meantime, please join me in offering Dr. Martin our congratulations on her new role and in thanking her for her extraordinary contributions to Yale.


Peter Salovey
Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology