Before the Hood, Where Was Dartmouth’s Art?

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The art and artifacts at Dartmouth can be traced back to the College’s founding in 1769.

Orrery, about 1780
Orrery, about 1780, purchased 1785. Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth: Allen King Collection of Scientific Instruments; 2002.1.35201. (Photo courtesy of the Hood Museum of Art)

Read the full story, published by the Hood Museum of Art.

The newly renovated and expanded Hood Museum of Art will open to the public on Jan. 26, following more than two years of construction. With the expanded museum, the 65,000-plus works will be better preserved, seen, and utilized by students, faculty, and all visitors. By restoring and updating the original 1985 building and adding new facilities, the museum will have increased capacity for teaching, exhibitions, and dialogue. This new design will also create a central artery through the campus arts district facing the Green.

In the leadup to the Hood’s reopening, we can’t help but look back and reflect on the history and journey of Dartmouth’s collection. Before the building was constructed, where did all those objects live? Why and how did Dartmouth start collecting? Has teaching with objects always been a priority for the College?

The collections of art and artifacts at Dartmouth can be traced back to the College’s founding in 1769. At the school’s second commencement in 1772, Dr. John Phillips gave the young institution 175 pounds with which to acquire a “philosophical apparatus” (a standard set of scientific equipment). That same year, the Rev. David McClure, a tutor at Dartmouth, wrote to President Eleazar Wheelock that he had acquired “a few curious Elephants Bones” for the school.  In 1773 the College received its first fine art piece: a silver monteith from John Wentworth, royal governor of New Hampshire and a Dartmouth trustee.

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