José Clemente Orozco: The Epic of American Civilization

Orozco Room in Baker-Berry Library

Detail from José Clemente Orozco, The Epic of American Civilization, 1932-34, fresco. Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Commissioned by the Trustees of Dartmouth College; P.943.13.1-24.

Orozco Murals in Baker LIbrary

Detail from José Clemente Orozco, The Epic of American Civilization: The Departure of Quetzalcoatl (Panel 7), 1932-34, fresco. Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Commissioned by the Trustees of Dartmouth College; P.943.13.7. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)

The Epic of American Civilization is an extensive mural cycle created by Mexican artist José Clemente Orozco between 1932 and 1934. One of Orozco’s finest creations and one of Dartmouth’s most treasured works, it was designated a national historic landmark in 2013.

The mural is composed of twenty-four distinct panels depicting the history of the Americas from the Aztec migration into Mexico to the industrialization of modern society. Located in the reserve corridor of Baker Library, now the Orozco Room, these scenes cover nearly 3,200 square feet of wall space.

Visitors can view the mural whenever the Orozco Room is open.

The Orozco Room was made possible by the Manton Foundation, whose generosity provides perpetual support for the preservation of the Orozco mural.

Dartmouth Digital Orozco

Launched in 2014, the Digital Orozco project features a full-screen panoramic image of the The Epic of American Civilization and enables the viewer to study Dartmouth’s contextual material, including preparatory drawings and in-process documentary photographs, in juxtaposition with, and in some cases overlaid upon, the final mural. The site also provides access to original research conducted by Dartmouth students in courses on Orozco and the Mexican mural movement. Additional information and documents will be published on the site as students and scholars add to our knowledge about this important mural cycle.

Dartmouth Digital Orozco was produced by the Hood Museum of Art in collaboration with the Neukom Institute for Computational Science. Funding was generously provided by the Class of 1960, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Neukom Institute for Computational Science.

For more information, read the related article or PDF iconthe press release (pdf)

Photography

Photographs of the murals may be taken for personal use only. F​lash photography is not permitted.

Tours

Tours of the mural are provided free of charge by the Hood Museum. To arrange adult or school tours, please contact the Hood Tour Coordinator or phone (603) 646-1469 at least one month in advance of the tour date requested. Get more information about the museum’s school programs.

Radio Features

  • NHPR and VPR aired pieces about the March 2013 selection of the mural cycle as a national historic landmark.

Brochure & Visitor’s Guide

Audio Commentaries

  • Take an audio tour with Professor Mary Coffey of the Art History Department, Dartmouth College. Professor Coffey is a specialist in Latin American art. 

  • Listen to a question-and-answer session about Orozco’s commission and experience at Dartmouth with Dr. Jacquelynn Baas, director emeritus of the University of California, Berkeley, Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, and inaugural director of the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College.

  • Take an audio tour with Professor John Watanabe of the Anthropology Department at Dartmouth College. Professor Watanabe is a Latin American and Mesoamerican specialist.

Videos

  • Professor Mary Coffey, a specialist in Latin American art at Dartmouth College, gives the Manton Foundation Inaugural Orozco Lecture: “Cortes and the ‘Angel of History’: Reflections on Orozco’s Epic of American Civilization and ‘Messianic Time.’”

  •  “The Orozco Mural Quetzalcoatl” (1961), a twenty-three-minute color film written, produced, and directed by Robert Canton ’58. The film tells the myth of Quetzalcoatl as depicted in The Epic of American Civilization.

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