A Focus on Student Impact: Museum Collecting 101

Posted on June 01, 2012 by Kristin Swan

Hood Quarterly, summer 2012

Since 2002, the Hood Museum of Art has offered Dartmouth students a non-curricular seminar titled Museum Collecting 101, which gives them the opportunity to learn about the museum's acquisition policy and also the criteria a curator uses to evaluate works for purchase.The course culminates in the students' selection of a photograph for the museum's holdings.

In 2009, the subject of the class was documentary photography, and students that year were asked to think about a number of collecting criteria that are particular to a teaching museum such as the Hood. One of the criteria was the relevance of the work of art to the curriculum at Dartmouth, both now and in fifty years. The students honed in on an image by Daniel Beltrá, a self-described conservation photographer whose work had not been part of any museum collection until they chose a photograph from his Amazon Drought series for the Hood. Since that time, this photographer has gone on to have multiple museum shows and has won many awards, including the Wildlife Photojournalist of the Year Award in 2011 for his SPILL series documenting the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Because of the 2009 students' deep interest in the subject of environmental photography, each of the following two years' collecting courses focused on this area, both to eventually develop holdings sufficient for an exhibition and to contribute to curricular courses in photography, environmental studies, geography, and geology.The students selected a photograph by J Henry Fair in 2011, and one by Ian Teh in 2012.

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Written June 01, 2012 by Kristin Swan