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Letter from the Director: Autumn/Winter 2010-11, 25th Anniversary Issue

Hood Quarterly, autumn/winter 2010-11
25th Anniversary Issue
Brian Kennedy, Director

Five years ago, in the autumn of 2005, I introduced my first “Letter from the Director” by welcoming an exhibition by the acclaimed American artist Fred Wilson. This show launched a series of some twenty permanent collection exhibitions and publications over the intervening period. As a result of this effort, the collections of the Hood Museum of Art are now much better known, and their contents more widely available. As I leave Dartmouth College to become President, C.E.O, and Director of the Toledo Museum of Art, we inaugurate a new exhibition, Frank Stella: Irregular Polygons, which features a remarkable series of paintings named after small towns in New Hampshire. In February 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama, describing Stella as “obviously a legend,” awarded the artist the National Medal of the Arts “for his accomplishments as one of the world’s most innovative painters and sculptors. His sophisticated visual experiments—often transcending boundaries between painting, printmaking, and sculpture—are modern masterpieces.” It is a great pleasure to welcome Frank Stella to Dartmouth College this fall as a Montgomery Fellow.

Over recent years, I have been engaged with Dartmouth faculty and students in discussions about visual literacy—the ability to construct meaning from all that we see. The Hood Museum of Art’s Learning to Look method has offered a great opportunity for staff members to work increasingly with members of the museum’s community, whether at the College or in the Upper Valley area of New Hampshire and Vermont. I held my first staff meeting in the center of Dartmouth Green to make it clear that we all needed to focus outward. It is a joy to record that with all of the activities that have been launched in recent years, the museum is a much more visible presence in the community. There are plans now too to provide expanded space for classrooms and art exhibitions, and this will be work for my successor as director.

I wish to thank President James Wright and Provost Barry Scherr, and their successors, Jim Yong Kim and Carol Folt, for their support, and for that received from many other administrators as we sought to gain ever greater visibility for the visual arts at Dartmouth. So many faculty members have taken advantage of the museum’s many resources, and I have also taken great pleasure in meeting countless brilliant students. It was my hope, coming to Dartmouth after spending years in public museums with hundreds of thousands of visitors, that I could seek to influence a class of Dartmouth students. After a year of getting to know the College, I then got to experience the journey of the Class of 2010, and to come to know many of them. I trust that these individuals have been influenced to appreciate the role and importance of art in their lives. Dartmouth is indeed gifted with its faculty and students, and with its huge capacity to teach the world about the role of aesthetic appreciation and art history, thereby supporting cultural understanding and mutual respect.

I have been honored to be the fifth director of the Hood Museum of Art and have quite simply had a splendid time. I am truly indebted to the great staff team at the Hood; they make everything possible with both talent and humor. Of all places at Dartmouth, the museum has wonderful friends. The Board members of the Hood Museum of Art, and in particular its Chairman, Jonathan L. Cohen ’60, Tu’61, and Charles Hood ’51, have been extraordinary in their support. The future of the museum is very sound indeed.

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