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Letter from the Director: Summer 2008

Hood Quarterly, summer 2008
Brian Kennedy, Director

We are all aware of how the forces of globalization are bringing countries and peoples of the world toward greater involvement with each other. Dartmouth College, situated in the state of New Hampshire, which has one of America’s least diverse racial profiles, has been experiencing an ever more diverse student population over recent decades. Today, the student body totals 56.8 percent non-Caucasian people, including 13.3 percent Asian American, 7.1 percent African American, 6.2 percent Latino, 3.5 percent Native American, and 6.6 percent international students.

The Hood Museum of Art has since 1985 provided access on the Dartmouth campus to collections of works of art of historic and cultural significance that are considerably more diverse in their countries of origin than the College’s student body. The museum’s staff members take every opportunity to activate the collections as visual material for the College’s curriculum, and for teaching and learning activities of wide variety on campus and well beyond it.

A college or university teaching museum provides a safe haven for the expression of alternative points of view. It should be a paragon of diversity, individual rights, and creative expression. In this way it resonates with the work of Dartmouth’s Office of Pluralism and Leadership (OPAL), which provides support to historically underrepresented individuals and groups on campus. OPAL strives to foster an environment that affirms cultural identities and to prepare all Dartmouth students to be culturally resilient and versatile citizens and leaders.

The Hood Museum of Art does not seek only to manage Dartmouth’s art collections, through the many exhibitions, publications, programs, and activities that it organizes, but also to be a leader in the community. It is said that management is doing things right and leadership is doing the right things. We hope that our efforts to promote diversity and equity can assist in making the climate of Dartmouth one that is open and accepting of difference. Sometimes we take Dartmouth students and our many other visitors outside of their comfort zones to what has been rightly called a “discomfort zone.” Art that speaks to the need for change and presents a challenge to current orthodoxies is often discomforting for our visitors. We hope that the Hood Museum of Art can be a key agent in promoting multiplicity, cherishing dialogue, respecting views contrary to our own, and moving Dartmouth College forward as an institution that is continually relevant to our time.

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