Building & Expansion

The original 40,000-square-foot postmodern building included ten galleries, a study-storage facility, and administrative spaces, as well as a 204-seat auditorium.The building is constructed of Flemish bond brick with a gray brick cornice and copper roof. 

In 2016, we broke ground for a major renovation and expansion of our facilities, which now include three object-study rooms, a sweeping public reception space, and a number of stunning new galleries, along with renovations to the original Charles Moore galleries. From excavation to reinstallation, the project continued through 2018.

The Hood Museum of Art is one of the world's most dynamic teaching museums, widely celebrated for the seamless integration of its collections into the Dartmouth educational experience. Opened in 1985 and dedicated to helping students "construct meaning from what we see," the Hood encourages students to explore cultures and the human condition through art.

The museum exemplifies Dartmouth's emphasis on experiential learning, giving students access to its 65,000-object collection and providing opportunities for undergraduates and graduate students to participate in the Hood's operations, such as by curating exhibitions and acquiring works. The museum's study-storage room hosted more than 2,000 student visits each year, and classes from disciplines as diverse as anthropology, biology, and engineering engaged with its collections regularly.

In addition, the Hood usually offers more than 100 special programs, exhibitions, lectures, and gallery talks throughout the year—most of these events open to the public.

All of this activity stretched the Hood's ability to meet its mission. Demand from students and faculty for access to the museum's galleries and its one study-storage space outstripped availability. To ensure that the museum could meet the needs of students, faculty, and the community, Dartmouth had to renew and expand the Hood. It undertook a $50 million expansion and renovation that increased the museum's floor size by 50 percent and allowed staff to potentially triple the museum's student classroom visits.

Elements of the Hood expansion include:

  • The addition of three technology-enhanced object-study rooms within a state-of-the-art object-study center, tripling curricular access for faculty and students from 40 departments and interdisciplinary programs and all four schools (Arts & Sciences, Geisel School of Medicine, Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies, Thayer School of Engineering, and Tuck School of Business)
  • The introduction of five new galleries, allowing the Hood to display portions of its collections that are not shown on a regular basis, including Aboriginal Australian art, Native American art, and signature modern works by artists such as Ed Ruscha, Mark Rothko, and Lorna Simpson
  • The construction of a dramatic new entrance, visible from the Green, that will serve as a crossroads where students congregate and collaborate, and also provide an inviting space for special functions, available to the entire Dartmouth community

Investment in the Hood Museum of Art helps provide Dartmouth students and faculty with rewarding opportunities to incorporate original works of art into their teaching and learning. The new social spaces also spur creative interactions that strengthen and enliven the entire Dartmouth community.

Most important, this renovation and expansion ensures that the museum fulfills its mission to create a learning environment that fosters transformative educational encounters with art for everyone—and puts learning through engagement with art front and center as never before.

Campus-Wide Impact

This expansion and rejuvenation of the Hood is part of a planned major investment in Dartmouth's Arts District, which includes the Hopkins Center for the Arts; the Black Family Visual Arts Center, which opened in 2012; and the DEN Innovation Center and New Venture Incubator, dedicated in 2014. The district is an increasingly vibrant catalyst for creativity—a laboratory for visual arts, music, dance, written expression, entrepreneurial ventures, and new approaches to learning. While creativity exists across the Dartmouth campus and in every discipline, this is ground zero for imaginative, innovative thinking.

For these reasons, the district will increasingly draw students from all disciplines, gathering them in spaces, both formal and informal, where they can easily exchange ideas and observations.

A Front Door for the Arts

Although the Hood has served students well for three decades, visibly it  kept a low profile—to the point that visitors to the museum sometimes struggled to find it. The reimagined Hood makes a bolder statement about the significance of the arts within the life of Dartmouth and provide the arts district with an arresting new front door to the world.

The Hood is also a robust center of creativity: a place for students to gather, discuss the arts, explore the intersection of the arts with other disciplines, and collaborate on projects that can only be imagined today.

Campus Crossroads

The bolder character of the reimagined Hood begins at its entrance. The firm Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects designed a striking entrance, visible from the Green and Wheelock Street, that invites exploration. Approaching the new main entrance, students and guests pass through the North Plaza, sure to be a natural meeting place as it welcomes those arriving at the Hood from any direction on campus. The North Plaza invites conversations and impromptu performances on its many gentle steps and supplies an inspirational setting for sculpture and other installations.

Entering the Hood, students, faculty, and guests find themselves in the Russo Atrium, one of the signature spaces in the expanded Hood. This is a gateway that proclaims the centrality of the arts. The atrium also provides a space for commissioned works of art and a flexible venue for events, including dinners and performances for upwards of 100 guests.

Catalyst for Learning

The three new object-study rooms in the museum's Bernstein Center for Object Study create unparalleled opportunities for study and research in a museum setting. These spaces also address the increased curricular demand for the direct study of original works.

With technology integral to their design, the new object-study rooms better enable faculty to contextualize objects through the use of film, the Internet, the Hood's comprehensive database of its collections, and other forms of new media. Students have the opportunity to communicate directly and in real time with primary sources—artists at work, anthropologists in the field, historians at peer museums—to delve even more deeply into the creation, context, and meaning of individual works.

Showcasing the Collections

The Hood expansion added five new galleries, designed to showcase the museum's extensive collections and encourage interdisciplinary teaching through objects from the collections. These spaces accommodate the display of art from different cultural and historic periods in a variety of media. Planned in concert with the curricular needs of Dartmouth and the interest of the community, the galleries feature frequent rotations of objects to fully capitalize upon the richness of the collections and present new and engaging experiences for repeat visitors.

The Hood is home to world-renowned collections that currently cannot be exhibited frequently enough. Its rich array of holdings span centuries, media, cultures, and artists, including:

  • Works by Rembrandt van Rijn, Francisco Goya, Pablo Picasso, Mark Rothko, Georgia O'Keeffe, Richard Serra, Andy Warhol, and Frank Stella, among others
  • Native American holdings—nearly 7,000 objects—ranging from archaeological materials to 19th-century beadwork to hundreds of items created by contemporary Native American artists
  • A 2,400-object Melanesian collection encompassing important works from every major island in the region
  • The extraordinary Owen and Wagner Collection of Contemporary Aboriginal Australian Art, spanning five decades of creative activity (the Hood is one of the foremost repositories of contemporary Aboriginal Australian art outside of its home continent)

In all, the Hood boasts one of the largest and finest university collections in the country. As contemporary artists continue to push the boundaries of painting, photography, sculpture, video, installation art, and other genres, the new galleries provide the space to showcase, not just the present and past, but the very future of art.

About the Architects

Selection Process

Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects was selected from among four architectural firms who were invited through a request-for-proposal process. The selection committee included representatives from the Hood Museum of Art, the division of Campus Planning and Facilities, the Office of the Provost, the Hopkins Center for the Arts, the Office of Planning and Design, and the Office of Project Management.

The Architects

Tod Williams and Billie Tsien are internationally acclaimed architects recognized for their rich modernist and meditative style and their vast portfolio of cultural and institutional buildings. The couple received the 2013 American Institute of Architects Architecture Firm Award and the National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama in 2014.

Among their many notable projects, Williams and Tsien have designed:

  • The American Folk Art Museum, New York City
  • The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia
  • The Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, University of Chicago
  • The Asia Society Hong Kong Center, Hong Kong

Tsien has a personal connection to the Hood Museum of Art: the museum's original architect, Charles Moore, was her thesis advisor at the Yale School of Architecture.

"Williams and Tsien have presented us with an inspired design that will transform the Hood in many ways, making it a front door for the arts at Dartmouth," says President Hanlon. "Their plan puts our teaching mission front and center where it belongs and presents an ideal environment for experiential learning, one that will make the Hood a national model teaching museum for the 21st century."

Read an interview with Tod Williams and Billie Tsien about the Hood Museum of Art commission.

Selected Expansion Press Coverage