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Brian Kennedy, Director, 2005–2010

Hood Quarterly, autumn/winter 2010-11
25th Anniversary Issue
From the letter of Carol Folt, Provost, to the Dartmouth community

While at Dartmouth, Brian Kennedy took the Hood Museum of Art out onto the campus, opening its doors in new and wonderful ways to faculty and students. He and his colleagues pulled nearly 5,000 works of art annually from storage for study by Dartmouth classes. Brian held his first Hood staff meeting on the Dartmouth Green to make the point that the museum had to position itself within the community. He launched many art initiatives with partner institutions, from the Dartmouth Medical School to the Norris Cotton Cancer Center to Kendal at Hanover.

He worked closely with the dedicated Hood Board of Overseers, began a new membership drive, and was a talented and effective fundraiser. He brought many new works of art to the collections, often with deep connections to Dartmouth, such as the portrait of Second Earl of Dartmouth William Legge by Pompeo Batoni and an early painting by Jackson Pollock that was influenced by the painter’s viewing of the Orozco murals at Dartmouth.

Among the major gifts received during Brian’s tenure were collections of Indonesian textiles, Australian Aboriginal art, and Native American Ledger drawings. The exhibitions and publications Brian organized during his tenure inspired and energized the community. Some twenty books about Hood collections have been published since 2005, and the museum’s website has become a critical resource. He curated several exhibitions himself, including Dreaming Their Way: Australian Aboriginal Women Painters and one-person shows of artists Sean Scully and Frank Stella.

No one who has listened to Brian lecture will ever forget his infectious enthusiasm, affection, and deep appreciation for art and artists. He taught us the value of public art and brought art to Dartmouth’s Baker Library with the works of Wenda Gu—the unforgettable hair screen—and most recently Felix de la Concha’s portraits. Sculptures by Allan Houser, Richard Nonas, and Richard Serra, along with the Inuksuk of Peter Irniq located in front of McNutt Hall, also have been added under his leadership.

Behind the scenes, he oversaw the creation of needed facilities and has been developing plans to expand the Hood so that it can offer more space for teaching with the collections. His deep engagement with Dartmouth students and faculty, and especially the museum’s constituent departments and the Hopkins Center for the Arts, will continue to enhance the museum’s role at the college well into the future.

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