Dartmouth College possesses one of the oldest and most respected campus-based art museums in the United States. The earliest acquisitions came into the “young museum at Dartmouth” in 1772. Those objects—among them a mastodon molar—are still on site and can be studied by undergraduates and faculty today. College collections grew steadily, if unsystematically, throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with museum exhibits spread throughout various academic departments (for example, Anthropology, Art History, Studio Art, and Classics). In the late 1970s, the administration initiated plans to gather all of the college collections in a freestanding, state-of-the-art facility to be called the Hood Museum of Art (after long-time College trustee Harvey P. Hood, whose family made a generous gift toward the construction of the museum building).
The renowned postmodernist architect Charles W. Moore began designing the Hood in 1981, and the building opened to sustained critical approval in September 1985. Since then, the collections have grown in both quantity and quality. Today the museum preserves almost 65,000 objects from throughout the world, all of them available for study in the public galleries or privately (by appointment) in the Bernstein Study-Storage facility. Special strengths include the collections of Old Master prints, Native American art, Oceanic art, colonial American silver, American painting and drawings, and contemporary sculpture. The Hood’s reputation as a model teaching museum has been underscored by the exhibitions that it regularly organizes and travels to other leading institutions throughout the United States—for example, The Age of the Marvelous (1991), Intimate Encounters: Love and Domesticity in Eighteenth-Century France (1997), José Clemente Orozco in the United States, 1927-1934 (2002), and Coming of Age in Ancient Greece: Images of Childhood from the Classical Past (2003). These projects received major outside funding support from government and private agencies. Recent grants have come to the museum from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, The Mellon Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, The Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation (U.S.A.), and the US/Mexico Fund for Culture. Public programs are vibrant at the Hood and, as a result, the museum attracts roughly 40,000 visitors per year (approximately a third of whom are students).
The museum consists of approximately 40,000 square feet of usable space divided among galleries, storage areas, workshops, and administrative areas. At present, the staff comprises approximately 25 full-time employees (many of whom have advanced degrees in art history or related fields), 8 to 10 part-time employees, and dozens of community volunteers. Additionally, through a highly competitive process, the museum appoints between 5 and 10 senior interns per academic year. Exhibitions, acquisitions, and other programs at the museum are described in its illustrated quarterly magazine. Roughly 50 percent of the annual operating budget of the museum is contributed by Dartmouth College; the remainder is raised by the director or derived from endowment income.
The last fundraising effort on behalf of the College yielded significant new support for education and academic programming at the Hood. Thanks largely to the Charles Hood and Andrew Mellon Foundations, these areas have developed substantial, relatively secure funding that is scaled appropriately to the fundamental teaching purpose of this institution. The focus of the next few years of fundraising will be toward new, equally worthy institutional priorities, as described below.
The goals for the Hood address the following needs:
—To support directly the fundamental purpose of the museum as a teaching institution, preserving, exhibiting, and interpreting works of art for a diverse public in the most professional manner
—To expand and strengthen the physical infrastructure for the arts at Dartmouth
—To make the collections accessible to students, faculty, staff, and the broader community
—To meet student interest through expanded programs
—To build the Hood Museum of Art endowment and reduce its dependency on current-use funding
—To respond to unique opportunities as they emerge
Museum Personnel Endowment
Most museum directorships at major institutions today are named, providing an enduring reference to a patron while ensuring professional continuity in that role. The Hood Museum of Art has a distinguished tradition of museum directors, including Jan van der Marck, Jacquelynn Baas, James Cuno, Timothy Rub, and Derrick Cartwright. By endowing the directorship, the museum will be able to attract the type of leadership that is essential in today’s competitive museum world.
Like the director’s position, a museum’s curatorial posts today represent naming opportunities for patrons who have a deep interest in a particular culture area. At the Hood, the following curatorial posts are available for naming: the Curator of European Art and the Curator of African, Oceanic, and Native American Collections. The Curatorships of American Art, Academic Programming, and Education have been named.
This new, two- to three-year rotating position would help alleviate the administrative burden under which the Hood’s professional staff currently operates while providing training for a promising young professional in the museum field. The post would also enable the Hood curators to take brief (three- to six-month) research sabbaticals to pursue new projects without penalizing the rest of the museum staff or neglecting their collection areas. This practice would bring the museum into parity with peers at Harvard, RISD, and other first tier campus-based museums. Preference could be given to applicants with Dartmouth degrees, and the fellowship also represents an appealing naming opportunity for this reason.
Exhibitions—Public Projects Fund The Hood relies heavily upon outside funding for all major exhibition programs, including the substantial costs associated with mounting the traveling exhibitions that have distinguished the museum for the past twenty years. This new funding would be used to alleviate the recurring fundraising burden placed upon the Director in order to mount exhibitions and other public projects of regional, national, or international significance. These resources might also be used to fund temporary positions, such as designers, editors, or educators. Funds would be grouped in named, purpose-specific endowments whose patrons would be recognized whenever income from them was utilized.
The Hood is very proud of its fully computerized, searchable database, which includes over four thousand digitized images. The College pays for software and maintenance of the computerized programs, but an endowment set up for this area would allow for the development of additional, extensive information technology. Such funding would guarantee that Dartmouth’s museum remains on the cutting edge of collections management through the professionalization of the Hood Museum of Art’s electronic database management and other computerized resources. New initiatives, such as the AAM’s suggested registry of Nazi-Era Provenance research, the proper exploitation of the College’s wireless capacity, and further Web site development can also only be met through the strengthening of funding to support this area.
The Hood’s publications—its Quarterly and exhibition catalogues, for instance—have won awards. Other publications, however, are out-of-date, including various collections brochures, introductory books about specific collections, and the more comprehensive Treasures of the Hood. Complete catalogues on specific collections are also required. Naming opportunities exist for the entire suite of Hood publications, or for individual publications such as the Quarterly.
The museum seeks to acquire objects of greater art historical and aesthetic significance and has recently devised a strategic plan for acquisitions to help accomplish this goal. Current endowment income is insufficient to make individual purchases of a world-class caliber on a regular basis, and additional resources are being sought for this reason. Additionally, the conservation of works of art already in the permanent collection represents a high priority for the curatorial staff. Purpose-specific endowments are sought for general acquisitions but also for areas of specific interest to patrons and professional staff. Certain areas—in particular African, Oceanic, and Native American Art, and contemporary art—have not received adequate acquisitions funds to date.
Specific funds are sought for the conservation of artwork in areas of interest to patrons and professional staff. The Hood’s collections are large, and many objects were accessioned over a long period of time. The opportunity to restore these objects to presentable display condition is a journey of discovery and revelation for the interested patron.
The Hood has achieved its target of acquiring funding for three nine-month positions, offering wonderful educational and development experiences for Dartmouth senior students.
Education Access Fund
The Charles H. Hood Foundation gave a challenge grant to the Hood Museum of Art in support of educational projects for children from grades K through 12, and college students to age twenty-three. This vital opportunity, if taken, will expand the Hood’s outreach into the local and regional community as well as the Dartmouth undergraduate community.
Faculty Research Funds
The Hood Museum of Art has a tradition of offering opportunities to members of the Dartmouth faculty to include museum objects in their curricular programming. The Mellon Foundation has been of special assistance in the past, but now a dedicated endowment is sought to underpin this essential link between the Hood and the College faculty it serves.
Endowed Funds to Support the Undergraduate Experience
The Hood has developed a range of programs to support the undergraduate experience, including the Space for Dialogue exhibition and its associated publication opportunity for interns at the Hood; involvement with acquisitions, seminars, conferences, and researching catalogue entries; and participation in the preparation of exhibitions. These unparalleled opportunities for the undergraduate experience of a museum would be guaranteed in the future by endowed funding from an interested patron.
Director’s Endowed Discretionary Fund
The director requires flexible funding in order to accomplish a variety of short-term educational projects. The most important of these projects relate to the professional development of staff, the more complete integration of Dartmouth students, and a new initiative to encourage more faculty research at the museum. Other projects will focus on non-curricular programs, student life-driven initiatives, and special exhibition/research projects, ensuring that currently experimental measures become mainstays of Hood practice in the future.
Director’s Current-Use Discretionary Fund
Current-use funds are sought within the capital campaign largely to allow the Hood the flexibility of supporting unique program proposals and taking advantage of opportunities as they are presented. These funds may be applied to maintaining professional memberships, sustaining curatorial research, prolonging the cycle of student-oriented programs, and hiring and maintaining temporary staff for short-term projects.
Storage and Conservation Rooms
From a collections management perspective, the Hood needs to improve onsite and offsite storage facilities. Custom-made racking and shelving would allow for more effective use of storage space and ensure appropriation conditions for objects in different media. Our conservation facilities require a new fit-out and a visitor study area. Students, patrons, and the general public should have the opportunity to see how art works are conserved, prepared for display by mounting and framing, and examined for art historical research purposes using the latest technological advances.
Administrative Office Renovation and Reconfiguration
The Hood administrative offices were constructed to receive nine staff members in 1985; currently this space is occupied by twenty-five staff and up to eight interns. A space audit is now necessary and funds are needed to better adapt the available area to current requirements.
Public Sculpture Maintenance and Resiting
The Hood is responsible for all of the art works on the Dartmouth campus, including current and planned public sculpture projects. Certain sculptures would benefit from a maintenance and re-siting program, and others could be retrieved from storage and placed in agreed-upon sites to enliven the campus.
For information about development opportunities at the Hood, please contact the Director’s office at (603) 646-2348. Email Brian.Kennedy@Dartmouth.Edu (Director of the Hood) or Roberta.Shin@Dartmouth.Edu (Assistant to the Director).
Last Updated: 12/10/09