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Letter from the Director: Autumn 2012

Hood Quarterly, autumn 2012
Michael Taylor, Director

I am thrilled to share this exciting edition of the Hood Quarterly with you, one that is designed to bring all of our readers up to date on the imminent renovation and expansion of the Hood Museum of Art. The coming years will be a remarkable time of transformation for the museum as we move ahead with a major expansion into the adjacent historic Wilson Hall building, the renovation of the main museum structure, and an addition to the existing Hood building that will include a new Museum Learning Center. Construction will begin at the end of 2013 [note: project timeline has changed; construction will begin in 2016], and the Hood Museum of Art will reopen two years later in an expanded facility with more art on display and more programs for you to enjoy.

We begin this issue with an exclusive interview with Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, the architects for the expansion project, which was conducted earlier this year while they were on campus for the first of many planning sessions with Hood staff and senior Dartmouth College administrators. As you will see from their comments, Tod and Billie are fully committed to working with us to position the Hood for continued success in the decades ahead and to ensure our ability to serve our community in fresh and exciting ways. To achieve this aim, we need to create a museum that truly functions as a learning center for the twenty-first century, complete with enhanced gallery spaces that will allow our visitors to experience the works of art on display in innovative and inviting ways, as well as new classrooms equipped with smart technology and exciting visitor amenities.

The expansion project has been guided by a lengthy strategic planning process at the Hood Museum of Art, during which the entire staff worked to articulate a roadmap for the museum’s future. A key component of our work together was to craft a new and aspirational mission statement:

The Hood Museum of Art is a teaching museum. Our mission is to create an ideal learning environment that fosters transformative encounters with works of art.

With this bold mission statement as our guide, we have outlined strategic goals for change, growth, and enhancement in ten areas of the museum’s operation in the years ahead. This planning document will be published later this year as a fully illustrated booklet, but we have outlined the highlights for you in this issue of the Hood Quarterly.

The inspiration behind the future growth of the Hood Museum of Art—to make it increasingly accessible, culturally and intellectually stimulating, and embracing of the best teaching and learning practices in the country—could not be more visible than with the stunning roster of exhibitions and programs that we have on offer this fall. In celebration of Dartmouth’s Year of the Arts (see the story about the campus-wide events on page 14), we are presenting the groundbreaking exhibition Crossing Cultures: The Owen and Wagner Collection of Contemporary Aboriginal Australian Art at the Hood Museum of Art. This exhibition, accompanied by a multi-authored and beautifully illustrated scholarly catalogue, showcases the extraordinary gift by Will Owen and Harvey Wagner of their magnificent collection, which has transformed the Hood into a leading destination for the study and display of contemporary Aboriginal Australian art. Please join us to celebrate the exhibition’s opening on September 21 with a panel discussion featuring leading Aboriginal Australian scholars entitled “Together Alone: The Politics of Indigeneity and Culture in Australia,” followed by an opening reception that evening and a special tour the next day with collector and donor Will Owen. I also urge you to read the calendar of events for the many other programs that accompany this must-see exhibition.

The expansion and renovation of the Hood Museum of Art means strengthening our mission as a teaching museum as never before. We will make our diverse collections and exhibitions more available to all of our visitors and deepen our reach into the Dartmouth and local school curricula by making our collections increasingly accessible through galleries designed to be learning spaces, smart classrooms for the close study of objects not on display, and places to make art, study, think, and relax. We look forward to sharing much more with you in the months ahead; meanwhile, I trust that your next visit to the museum will be an enjoyable one.

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