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Letter from the Director: Spring/Summer 2016

Photo by Robert Gill.

Photo by Robert Gill.

Hood Quarterly, spring/summer 2016
John Stomberg, Virginia Rice Kelsey 1961s Director

It is a special time in the long evolution of the museum at Dartmouth. For nearly 250 years, Dartmouth’s collections have grown and become ever more diverse. We started with a single wooly mammoth tooth, and today we care for examples of almost every conceivable manifestation of creative production, including important holdings of Native American material; Australian Aboriginal paintings; European old master and American paintings, prints, drawings, and sculptures; antiquities; Japanese prints; and photographs from around the world. Thirty years ago we opened the Hood Museum of Art, designed to present what was even then a significantly smaller collection, and to house a staff of ten. Currently a staff of over thirty people cares for a collection of over 65,000 objects.

As we have moved into the new century, it has become increasingly clear that Dartmouth needs a larger facility for the Hood Museum of Art, and this summer the construction of our new home will begin. Architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien have devised a brilliant solution for how to meet our increasing campus and community demands while maintaining our treasured location in the center of the Dartmouth’s arts district. Their plan provides five new galleries, a teaching suite of three classrooms, unified offices for the staff, and a public gathering space—all within the tight footprint of the current building and without losing the wonderful public spaces that Charles Moore created with his 1985 building.

The essence of the new design is to enclose the current courtyard, turning it into a public concourse between the front of the building and Hopkins Center. Above this welcoming new space, the architects have designed second-floor galleries and a third-floor office suite. The front of the new structure will squarely face the sidewalk close to East Wheelock Street (facing the Green), and the rest of the addition will wrap around the current museum. The outdoor walkway from the Green to the Maffei Arts Plaza will be widened and enhanced. When the expansion is complete, we will enjoy a greatly improved facility where many more classes of students will learn from objects, where visitors will amble through sixteen stunning galleries, and where passersby will gather in the warmth of our atrium.

And now for some even better news: we are pleased to announce that the enterprise of the museum will continue during construction. Read an introduction to our four-part scheme for ongoing activities. We are also already planning to reopen the new building with great fanfare and a variety of celebrations—and you’re invited. While I hope to see you before then, at one of the many events and exhibitions we are hosting, please mark your calendar for the festivities surrounding the debut of our new museum, presently anticipated for January 2019.

Ultimately, one picture emerges from all of this: an institution on the move. This theme comes in many forms. It characterizes the relentless process of improving our educational offerings. It describes our non-stop programs that range from student-driven parties to lectures by world-renowned scholars and artists. It evokes the intellectual explorations that drive our exhibitions. And it certainly captures the state of our staff and physical plant as we prepare to embark on a most challenging and exciting chapter in the Hood story. We are on the move and are ever grateful to have you at our side every step of the way. Together, we are writing Hood Museum of Art history.

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