Letter from the Director: Autumn 2008

Posted on September 01, 2008 by Kristin Swan

Hood Quarterly, autumn 2008
Brian Kennedy, Director

At a reception for sophomore parents recently, the group discussed why Dartmouth has an art museum. Some people felt that it was to display the wonderful collections, others to support a liberal arts curriculum. But we all agreed that the museum provides essential support for visual literacy. While our society has developed an educational model that serves well our needs to read and write, count and compute, it is not so strong in the skills of looking at, seeing, describing, and interpreting objects (and, by extension, our visual world). We all accept that a book must be read from beginning to end, which obviously takes time. We do not feel the same way about visual images, which we assume can be "read" much more quickly. The Hood Museum of Art's programs and activities are devoted to helping students, teachers, and our community of visitors to explore this contradiction, and to take the time to learn to read images such as the ones on view at the Hood this fall.

European Art at Dartmouth, our major exhibition, is the second collection highlights show in a series of four begun last year with American Art at Dartmouth. Bart Thurber, Curator of European Art, has prepared a scholarly catalogue of highlights from the Hood's collections. These works tell a story of artistic change and development in Europe from the Renaissance to the twentieth century. The Hood's extensive European collections have been built with support from extraordinary donors through gifts of works of art and endowment funds, in particular Jean and Adolph Weil Jr., Class of 1935, Jane and W. David Dance, Class of 1940, and Barbara Dau Southwell, Class of 1978, and David Southwell, Tuck 1988. We are truly grateful to them, and to all who continue to support the Hood, especially through our relaunched membership program.

Philip Greene's gift of works by California watercolorists from the late 1920s through the 1950s is on display in the Harrington Gallery. We are very pleased to have such fine examples in a New England museum, bringing eastward the traditions and history of this great western state in a generous act of transnational celebration.

Immanence and Revelation: The Art of Ben Frank Moss ushers in a new series. The Hood Museum of Art has cherished its relationship with the Studio Art Department over the years, and we now wish to formally honor our art professors by providing an opportunity for the community to more fully engage with their art. We are also making acquisitions of a key work from each of them. Ben Moss's exhibition and its accompanying publication present an artist of great poetry who explores earthly beauty in search of universal truths.

The museum staff joins with me in wishing every success to Barbara Thompson as she moves on to become Curator of African and Native American Art at Stanford University. Her six years at the Hood have seen a joyous succession of acquisitions, exhibitions, and publications related to the African, Oceanic, and Native American collections. Her groundbreaking show Black Womanhood has begun its national tour at Wellesley College, after which it will travel to the San Diego Museum of Art and Spelman College in Atlanta.

In This Issue:


Written September 01, 2008 by Kristin Swan