The new Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth, welcomes campus and community audiences to its expanded galleries and the Bernstein Center for Object Study.
Dartmouth's collections are among the oldest and largest of any college or university in the country, but it was not until the Charles Moore–designed Hood Museum of Art opened its doors in 1985 that they were all housed under one roof and made available to faculty, students, and the public. When first accredited in 1990, the Hood Museum was already described by the American Association of Museums (now the American Alliance of Museums) as a "national model" for college and university museums. The museum has been consistently accredited since then and subsequently labeled "as fine a museum as one can find in this country." The Hood Museum's collections are drawn from a broad range of cultures and historical periods and represent a remarkable educational asset for both Dartmouth and the communities of the Upper Valley region of New Hampshire and Vermont. Among the museum's most important holdings are six Assyrian stone reliefs from the palace of Ashurnasirpal II (about 900 BCE) and the remarkable fresco by José Clemente Orozco titled The Epic of American Civilization (1932–34), which is now a National Historic Landmark. The 65,000 objects in the museum's care represent the diverse artistic traditions of six continents, including, broadly, Native American, European and American, Asian, Indigenous Australian, African, and Melanesian art. The museum collects, preserves, and makes available for interpretation these works in the public trust and for the benefit of all.
In early 2019, the Hood Museum concluded a physical expansion and renovation project, as well as a reinvigoration of what it does and how it does it. With architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien and their team, as well as colleagues in the Dartmouth President's, Provost's, and Campus Planning Offices, the Hood Museum of Art staff immersed itself in this purpose-driven building project, which renewed this thirty-five-year-old institution on a campus that turned 250 in 2019. The museum tripled its teaching capacity from one study-storage room to three smart object-study rooms, each designed to accommodate a particular type of experiential engagement with objects of aesthetic and cultural significance. These teaching spaces are located in a dedicated center, alongside an object-staging room and curatorial and security offices. The museum also expanded its galleries by a third and added to its existing facility a new public concourse that serves as a forum for the college's arts initiatives, as well as a welcoming entry into the new museum and object-study center. The expansion also encompassed improvements to the original Charles Moore galleries, new workspaces and meeting rooms for staff, and a renewal of the museum's auditorium and general visitor-services accommodations.
Dartmouth President Phil Hanlon '77 remarks:
Dartmouth provides the best undergraduate learning experience in the world. It's the most important thing we do, and building on that strength is my highest goal. The Hood Museum of Art is a model of what a teaching museum can do, and we are committed to expanding its capacity to transform student lives through challenging and intellectually engaging experiences.
Harvey P. Hood: Our Founding Benefactor
A longtime trustee of Dartmouth College and a friend and advisor to three Dartmouth presidents, Harvey P. Hood, Class of 1918, endorsed the view that an education must include exposure to the full breadth of human knowledge and experience for the fullness of human potential to be realized. As a distinguished businessman, a loyal and active alumnus, and a supporter of the arts, Harvey Hood exemplified this ideal in his own life. The generous gifts of Harvey P. Hood and his wife, Barbara C. Hood, along with gifts from the Hood family and from other friends of the arts at Dartmouth, have made this museum possible.