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Letter from the Director: Summer 2017

Photo by Robert Gill.

Photo by Robert Gill.

Hood Quarterly, summer 2017
John Stomberg, Virginia Rice Kelsey 1961s Director

Out of sight, but not out of mind.

The collection is the heart of the museum, and though it is not currently on view, it is very much on our minds. Several ambitious projects now underway directly involve the art in our care and the future of its presentation at the museum. Foremost among these has been our curators’ effort to acquire significant new works in a variety of collecting areas. Recent purchases and gifts have included a Greek amphora, a thirteenth-century Indian Chola bronze, a fifteenth-century Italian relief of St. Jerome, an 1826 Thomas Cole landscape, a 1932 Oscar Bluemner cityscape, a 1966 painting by the Gutai artist Hisao Domoto, a monumental Mimmo Paladino sculpture, and a 2015 work by the Congolese painter Eddy Kamuaga. Each of these works represents with great verve the moment in which it was made and the maker responsible for its creation. When the Hood reopens, expect surprises in every gallery, exhibited alongside your longtime favorites. 

The idea of a “virtual museum” has also captured the imagination of our team. Essentially, we aim to have a website that serves as a portal to interesting and useful content. We are all accustomed to going to a museum’s website for information regarding location, exhibitions, and hours. The new Hood website will feature material that will complement and extend visitors’ experiences in the museum. It will expand greatly the opportunities for educators and their students to engage with the museum virtually. It will offer deeper research modules for our collections that will provide general context for and specific information on the objects. Finally, for the next few years we are piloting a “Virtual Space for Dialogue” series of student-curated digital exhibitions that will serve as models for future online projects. Together, these plans will make the website a reflection of the new Hood’s dynamism, in the virtual realm.

To support our expanded digital presence, we also have been busy photographing large swaths of the collection. Soon we will be able to share significantly more images of our African, Native American, and Aboriginal Australian art, as well as a greatly enhanced selection of our works on paper. Happily, we have discovered that once an object is photographed, and the image is shared on our website, it enjoys much wider attention. Professors can identify it for use in their classes, students can select it for class projects, and scholars from around the world can assess—or reassess—the work in the context of new research. Further, in our experience, the digital reproduction encourages all of these users to visit the museum to see the original. This is, after all, our most basic mission: orchestrating opportunities for individuals to engage directly with the art in our collection.

Finally, this has been a time to attend to the conservation needs of some objects in our care. The curators and registrars have identified a few works that had issues with their physical condition, and instigated a vigorous campaign to have these artworks ready to go back on view when the Hood reopens. All in all, the collection has been the center of our activity for the last year and will continue to be our focus as we prepare for the grand reopening of the museum, which during the first year will feature reinstallations of the permanent collection in every gallery. We cannot wait to have you join us in the new building.

Until then, please enjoy the ongoing programming at the Hood Downtown exhibition space. It is our way to say thank you for your continued patience as we build a bigger and better Hood Museum of Art.

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