Student-Curated Exhibitions at the Hood Museum of Art

Since 2001, the Hood Museum of Art has mounted an ongoing series of student-curated mini-exhibitions drawn from the museum's collections. A Space for Dialogue is a unique aspect of the museum's senior internship program. Mentored by museum staff, the interns perform independent research, select objects to exhibit, develop their own interpretive strategies, and express their ideas in their own voices. They write descriptive labels, work with Hood staff to design the installation, and give a public gallery talk. In this way, they gain invaluable insights into curatorial practice while the public gains access to objects and ideas that might not otherwise be on view in the museum. Each exhibition is accompanied by a professionally produced, color-illustrated brochure featuring the exhibition checklist and an essay by the student curator.

Subjects of the A Space for Dialogue exhibitions have ranged as widely as the interns' imaginations and the scope of the Hood's rich and extensive collections. Examples include Picturing Family in the "South": Legacies of the American Civil War, curated by Sophia Hutson '06; The Quest for Printed Tone: The Origins of Mezzotint in the Seventeenth Century, curated by Alex Vespoli '09; RIOT: Feminist Protest Art, curated by Julissa Llosa '10; Art in Motion: A Deeper Look at the Animated Figure and Its Presence in Contemporary Works, curated by Kayla Gilbert '12; and Modern Melancholy curated by Jane Cavalier '14. Reflecting the intellectual curiosity and critical thinking of the interns, this series continues to be one of the most successful ventures the museum has undertaken in relation to undergraduate education and our internship program. 

In keeping with the museum's mission to provide transformative encounters with works of art, the Hood's A Space for Dialogue series offers undergraduates a rare opportunity to create a museum installation independently. "The amount of freedom and responsibility we were given," intern Frances Middleton '12 observed, "is something that I know will not be duplicated in any other internships or entry-level jobs I will have post-graduation."

To date, more than 100 Dartmouth student interns have produced A Space for Dialogue installations, beginning with Amelia Kahl '01, who now serves as the museum's Barbara C. and Harvey P. curator of academic programming. Other program alumni have pursued related work as curators and educators at distinguished museums and universities, and as practicing artists. Former intern Stephanie Trejo '10 reported that it was "due in great part to this [experience] that I realized I wanted to be a curator. So in short this internship gave me a life plan."

This program would not have been possible without outside funding for A Space for Dialogue. Beginning in 2002, yearly funding from the Class of 1948 enabled A Space for Dialogue to thrive and allowed the museum to offer students the opportunity to produce an illustrated color brochure as well as plan a new design for the space with each installation. The Hood Museum of Art is grateful to the Class of 1948 for making this wonderful program possible and indebted to them for their commitment to support the museum's role in enhancing the lives of students who plan future careers in the arts or a related field.

Over time, new patrons for this well-received exhibition series emerged. With the support of Hood Board of Overseers members Hugh Freund and David Lowenstein, and class president Sam Ostrow, the Class of 1967 signed on to be A Space for Dialogue's next sponsor, along with Bonnie and Rick Reiss, Class of 1966, and Pamela J. Joyner, Class of 1979. Individual members of the Class of 1948, who have been very committed to this project, also continue to support it.

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Written November 02, 2015