Museum Collecting 101 Continues Remotely

Museum Collecting 101 started in 2002 and has added over 20 works to the museum's collection. In a spring in which there were so many changes, the museum was glad to continue this program remotely, giving students a chance to engage with art and to leave an artistic legacy at the college. 

A drawing of a lush forest transitions seamlessly into a photograph continuing the scene. A film shows a woman walking down the street in a white dress made out of balloons that spill out in front of her. A photograph highlights a white lift holding a worker replacing streetlights against a brilliant blue. These works by Gabriela Albergaria, Lia Chaia, and Ko Sin Tung were some of the options presented to this year's Museum Collecting 101 class.

This April, twelve Dartmouth students gathered weekly over Zoom to discuss photography, the Hood's collection, and the process and ethics around collecting. From first-years to seniors, their majors spanned government, computer science, engineering, film studies, psychology, and earth sciences. Hood staff, including Virginia Rice Kelsey 1961s Director John Stomberg, led discussions on acquisition criteria, the history of photography, and the museum's collection. Then the students studied the work of ten artists chosen by Associate Curator of Global Contemporary Art Jessica Hong. The artists' work spanned across the globe (Hong Kong, São Paulo, Paris, Dubai, and the United States). For the first time this year, time-based media was an option for acquisition. The class was planned last winter, and the global emphasis lent itself well to transitioning to a remote experience with the advance of the pandemic.

After debate and discussion as to which work would be best for teaching and exhibition, the students chose Aisha's Story 1 (2016) by Maïmouna Guerresi represented by Mariane Ibrahim Gallery in Chicago, IL. They were drawn by the strong formal qualities of the photograph, its engaging content—it's part of a series titled Aisha in Wonderland that plays off of the well-known children's novel Alice in Wonderland—and how it would complement works already in the Hood Museum's collection. The museum will purchase the photograph and all of the students' names will be permanently included on the credit line.

Thomas Knight '22 wrote of the experience:

"When I visited Dartmouth, and when I first arrived, the Hood wasn't really something I was aware of. But with the completion of the renovation and programs like Museum Collecting 101, the College has made it abundantly clear that their mission is student enrichment, but also student participation. Often you get the former without the latter, but Museum Collecting is a manifestation of the philosophy that learning should be guided by the work of professors, museum staff, and students in conjunction with one and other. Knowing that we have made our mark on the Hood's collection and enabled it to show and display an ever richer conception of art is a powerful feeling, and I'm sure it is shared by everyone who participated."

Many thanks to Grace Hanselman '20, Mellon Special Project Intern and former Museum Collecting 101 participant, who worked to make the program possible this year.

Written by Amelia Kahl, Andrew W. Mellon Associate Curator of Academic Programming

Written May 20, 2020