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Letter from the Director: Autumn 2007

Hood Quarterly, autumn 2007
Brian Kennedy, Director

The exhibition American Art at Dartmouth: Highlights from the Hood Museum of Art, which began last June, reaches fruition this fall with some fifty American works on paper joining the many paintings and pieces of sculpture and decorative arts already on display. A fine catalogue has been produced to coincide with the exhibition, and both are a testament to the curatorial talent and scholarship of Barbara MacAdam, Jonathan L. Cohen Curator of American Art. The exhibition and publication comprise the first in a series planned for the next few years that is focused on major aspects of the Hood’s permanent collections. This fulfills one of the key aims of the four-year Strategic Plan for the Hood that began on July 1, 2006. The staff and Board of Overseers determined to heighten the museum’s visibility, increase academic and community programming, and reach outside the museum with exciting displays of works of art.

The overall effect of these efforts has been remarkable already. Increased visibility has led to increased visitation, up 31 percent on the previous year, a consequence of much increased programming and many new initiatives by the staff. For example, Wenda Gu’s installations, united nations: the green house and united nations: united colors, on display in Baker-Berry Library until October 28, have caused much comment and debate in the campus and wider community. As College President James Wright said at the opening of the exhibition, contemporary art is meant to cause us to think, and there is no doubt that this engaging and provocative display will reverberate in the memory for a long time.

Dartmouth has long had generous donors, and we are honored to acknowledge Philip Greene, who has made a delightful gift of thirteen paintings that demonstrate the best of California’s watercolorists from the late 1920s through the 1950s. The gift was made in memory of Mr. Greene’s wife, Marjorie, who made the collection with him. The Hood has also been successful at auction in acquiring a fine portrait of William Legge, the Second Earl of Dartmouth (1731–1801), the early benefactor after whom the College is named. The lifetime portrait by Pompeo Batoni, the most celebrated portrait painter in later eighteenth-century Rome, had remained in the sitter’s family since it was painted in the 1750s. Its purchase was made possible with funds received from Jane and David Dance D’40, T’41, Jonathan L. Cohen D’60, T’61, Frederick Whittemore D’53, T’54, Barbara Dau Southwell D’78 and David Southwell T’88, Jane and Raphael Bernstein DP, and an anonymous donor. Robert Dance ’77 provided decisive support, and the generous assistance of Joseph S. Caldwell III D’51, T’52 is also acknowledged.

The Hood has thrived because of the dedication and generosity of its friends and supporters. We are pleased that following the transition in 2006 to separate Boards for the Hood Museum of Art and the Hopkins Center for the Performing Arts, there are now two distinct membership programs for our institutions as well. We look forward to building on the already strong community support for the Hood through our museum membership organization in the coming years. Thank you warmly for your great support of the museum and all it does to promote a spirit of creativity and imagination in our community.

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