Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Awards $1.25 Million to the Hood Museum of Art


Funding will support academic programs and initiatives

Dartmouth’s Hood Museum of Art has been awarded a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the continued integration of the museum and its collections into the College’s curriculum. The award will enable the Hood to create two new staff positions—a coordinator of academic programming and a part-time art handler—to help meet the rising demand of faculty seeking to use the collections as a teaching resource. A challenge grant of $1 million, which the College and the Hood are asked to match within three years, will create an endowment for these positions, and $250,000 in spendable funds will allow the museum to launch the program immediately.

Professor of Art History Joy Kenseth teaches a class in the Hood’s Bernstein Study Storage Center. (Photo courtesy of the Hood Museum of Art)

“We are in a fortunate position. The success of the museum’s earlier initiatives to ignite an interest in teaching with objects has generated an increased demand not only for current programs, but also for new types of engagement with the museum,” says Brian Kennedy, director of the Hood. “Faculty members from a wide range of disciplines that are outside of the museum’s core constituents, such as philosophy, environmental studies, and comparative literature, have increasingly requested short-term use of objects in the study-storage classroom. Further growth seems likely in the near future, particularly as President Jim Yong Kim has expressed his support of a program to promote visual literacy to Dartmouth’s students, which will increase the number of classes using the museum’s objects and teaching methods.”

According to Katherine Hart, associate director and the Barbara C. and Harvey P. Hood 1918 Curator of Academic Programming, Hood staff annually pulls between 3,500 and 5,000 works of art from storage for classroom use. Visits to the Bernstein Study-Storage Center, the museum’s classroom, rose from 29 classes in 1992 to an annual average of 92 classes and more than 1,200 student visits.

Jack Wilson’s “Drawing I” class at work in the Hood Museum of Art. (Photo by Joseph Mehling ’69)

“These new Mellon-funded staff positions will enable the museum to engage even more faculty members in the use of our collections, thus expanding the number of disciplines we serve,” says Hart. “We are extremely grateful to the foundation for their vital support to the central mission of the Hood as an academic art museum committed to teaching and learning with original works of art.”

The Hood has received previous support from the Mellon Foundation to engage faculty with the museum’s collection. Two grants and a challenge endowment, awarded in 1992, 1995, and 2000, funded a variety of curricular programs including museum residencies for Dartmouth faculty to study works of art and material culture that they planned to integrate into their teaching.

The Hood’s efforts to expand object-based learning in recent years were highlighted in a 2008 external review. The review committee noted that the Hood “has energized faculty, students, and staff to utilize individual artworks and collections for classes, special research projects, and student-organized exhibitions.“ The museum also created an ”appetite for access to art that surpasses most university museums in North America, providing Dartmouth with an extraordinary opportunity to assume leadership as a national exemplar of object-based learning.”

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