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Letter from the Director: Autumn 2003

Hood Quarterly, autumn 2003
Derrick R. Cartwright, Director

The Hood is a relatively small museum that routinely accomplishes big things. Our current exhibition is only the most recent expression of this longstanding tendency. Coming of Age in Ancient Greece: Images of Childhood from the Classical Past fills the entire second floor of the museum with objects lent by the finest private and public collections. We are delighted to offer these rare works to the Dartmouth College and Upper Valley community for an extended period of time, accompanied by superb interpretations and a broadminded suite of public programs. In so doing, we aim to inspire sustained reflection on the meaning of representations from antiquity, changing ideas about childhood, and the critical role of museums in the study of diverse cultures both past and present. This promises to be a rewarding experience for all who come through the Hood’s doors this autumn. Before the show completes its traveling itinerary in late 2004, it is likely that more than 100,000 visitors will benefit from the experience of this project—first in Hanover, then New York City, Cincinnati, and Los Angeles. The 350-page scholarly catalogue that accompanies Coming of Age in Ancient Greece will stand as a lasting record of the new knowledge generated by this monumental undertaking.

Projects of this scale and international significance require enormous commitments of time and substantial financial support. One of the privileges of being a museum director is the pleasure that comes from publicly communicating thanks to worthy friends. I hasten to express gratitude to my colleagues at dozens of museums throughout the world as well as to the leadership of the National Endowment for the Humanities, The Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation (U.S.A.), and the Friends of the Hopkins Center and Hood Museum of Art: they are surely responsible for this project’s success. The guest curators, Professors Jenifer Neils and John H. Oakley, have been strong colleagues throughout the maturation of the exhibition. We owe these two scholars a tremendous debt for their time and energy, and for the lifelong enthusiasm that they bring to this subject matter. Finally, without the prevailing atmosphere of academic challenge and intellectual rigor established by the faculty and administration of Dartmouth College, my colleagues and I would not have attempted such an ambitious undertaking at this particular moment.

I also seize the space provided by this letter to express admiration for the spirit of collaboration and teamwork that pervades all such activities at the Hood Museum of Art. The staff of this museum has worked extraordinarily hard to execute a project like this one. It gives me satisfaction to acknowledge and celebrate both their hard work and high standards. Katherine Hart, in particular, has been a tireless advocate for and supervisor of the project. Kathy has done more than anyone else to make Coming of Age in Ancient Greece happen, and I congratulate her again here. Without the selfless sacrifice and clear belief in the value of museums that she and other professionals on the Hood staff demonstrate daily, we would not have momentous exhibitions, so many objects of wonder, or stimulating debates of the sort we can all expect to find in Hanover this fall. As we savor this project and its rich visual components, we should never forget the large, but largely invisible, contribution that commitment of this kind represents.

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