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Hood Museum of Art
Dartmouth College
Hanover, NH 03755

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Critical Faculties

Teaching With the Hood's Collections

Press Release

Hood Explores Academic Perspective on Collections

Hanover, NH--The Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College launches its twentieth anniversary year with Critical Faculties: Teaching with the Hood's Collections. This special exhibition was organized by faculty of the museum's four constituent academic departments at the college--anthropology, art history, classics, and studio art. The show illustrates the Hood's primary mission as a teaching museum through a series of four distinct installations that represents each discipline's approach to teaching with art. Visitors will have the opportunity to experience works of art from a wide range of media and time periods. This "insider" perspective on the collections begins a yearlong journey of looking at some of the 65,000 works of art in the museum's collections that will reflect the myriad ways people perceive and utilize the museum.

A public lecture by Katherine Hart, Interim Director and Barbara C. and Harvey P. Hood 1918 Curator of Academic Programming, will open the exhibition on Friday, January 14, at 4:30 p.m. in the Arthur M. Loew Auditorium.

The Anthropology Department installation explores a great variety of opportunities for study with the collection, featuring the Hood's pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican tools and obsidian jewelry from Mexico and Central America; an array of important ancestral boards and contemporary paintings from Papua New Guinea; and an intriguing selection of heavily symbolic African objects.

Art history professors often hold classes in the museum galleries, making use of both the permanent collections and changing exhibitions and introducing students first-hand to the art and material artifacts of cultures near and far. The faculty of the Art History Department's vision pays tribute to premodern and early modern modes of museum exhibition, evoking cultural memories both of the Wunderkammer (cabinet of curiosities) and of the ways in which paintings and sculptures were shown at the salons of the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century art academies. However, this installation is decidedly contemporary in conception. By breaking down geographical and cultural hierarchies--between artifacts and art, Western and non-Western origins, male and female artists--the installation strives to remind viewers of the museum's power to organize knowledge and provoke thought.

Dartmouth's classics faculty utilizes the Hood's small collection of Greek and Roman art and artifacts in a variety of ways. The museum's ancient Greek and Roman coins, Cypriot and Greek pottery, and Cypriot and Roman sculpture have regularly served as the focus of study for students in an introductory course on classical archaeology. Classics students have also played a role in the selection of objects in the portion of Kim Gallery that is devoted to ancient Mediterranean art. Their installation explores the history of portraiture and the classical tradition through ancient imperial Roman coins and medals, Cypriot and Roman sculptures, and Italian prints and portrait paintings. Highlights include coins and medals depicting the legacy of Alexander the Great, depictions of Julius Caesar and other Roman legends; a magnificent eighteenth-century print by Giovanni Battista Piranesi showing the principal elevation of the Column of Trajan in Rome; an engraving by Hendrick Goltzius; and the eighteenth-century portrait painting of Robert Clements with a bust of Homer by Pompeo Batoni.

Studio art faculty members frequently utilize the museum's collections by bringing their classes to the Bernstein Study-Storage Center at the museum. In this intimate setting, students are able to examine paintings, sculptures, drawings, and photographs for a total sensory appreciation of the artist's touch, marks, and color, as well as the physical properties of media. Objects from the collection are also often copied by students—a process that informs their own creative work.

Student works inspired by permanent collection items are featured in this installation, in many cases expressing the direct influence of the masters. Highlights include paintings by students based on Alice Neel's portrait Daniel Algis Alkaitis; architectural computer renderings inspired by Pablo Picasso's painting Guitar on a Table; student prints reflecting their study of the Hood's collection; and cutting-edge photography by established artists as well as recent Dartmouth graduates that demonstrates the evolution of this art form.

This exhibition reveals the incredible variety of opportunities available to Dartmouth faculty and students for using the collections as a teaching tool. Critical Faculties is offered as part of the Hood's yearlong celebration of its twentieth anniversary in 2005. The exhibitions and programs featured throughout the year will probe the collections as well as the museum staff's hopes and dreams for the future.

Hood Museum of Art

Hood Museum of Art is a nonprofit organization recognized by the American Association of Museums as "a national model" for college and university museums. It is one of the oldest and largest college museums in the country, housing a diverse collection of more than 65,000 works of art and art objects with particular strengths in American painting and silver, European master paintings and prints, and African, Oceanic, and contemporary art. Open Tuesday - Saturday, 10 - 5, with evening hours on Wednesday until 9; Sunday, 12 - 5. Admission is free. The museum galleries and the Arthur M. Loew Auditorium are wheelchair accessible. For more information, directions, or to search the collections, please visit the museum's website or call (603) 646-2808.