At the Hood’s Reopening, See a ‘Brand New Museum’

A bigger, brighter museum makes its debut Jan. 25 and 26.

Watch the dedication ceremony online.

It’s been three years in the re-making, and now the renovated and expanded Hood Museum is just days away from its debut. At 3 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 25, a dedication ceremony will be held on campus. The next day, at 11 a.m., doors will open to the public.

“They are going to see, in many ways, a brand new museum,” says John Stomberg, the Virginia Rice Kelsey 1961s Director of the Hood. “The first thing you notice is the social space—the atrium—which is sort of like an interior town square.” 

Suspended overhead is Juan Muñoz’s Figure Hanging from One Foot sculpture.

“From there, you enter the museum proper, and right away you’ll engage with a painting you probably haven’t seen before, because we bought it after we closed for renovations. Our Journey, a major work by the Nigerian artist Obiora Udechukwu, sets the stage for surprise and delight throughout the galleries.”

Stomberg says the Hood’s collection “leans toward social justice. We’ve expanded the story of art by adding more African Americans, Native Americans, artists from Japan, women—these are artists who had long fought for space in the museum, and now they have pride of place.”

The renovation by architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien allows much more of Dartmouth’s permanent collection to be on view than was previously possible. Stomberg says displays in all 16 galleries will change from time to time.

Several centerpieces of the museum have not been moved. For instance, rare ninth-century B.C.E Assyrian relief panels still greet visitors at the door. “All of our tried and true works, including Pablo Picasso’s 1911 Still Life with a Bottle of Marc, and Paul Sample’s painting Beaver Meadow will be on view,” says Stomberg, “and we’re confident that a lot of new art we’ve added will become favorites, as well.”

Stomberg praises Williams and Tsien for creating “signature moments” with the exterior and atrium design, while allowing the interior to “take a back seat” to the art, improving the flow through the galleries.

“You wander through the ancient world in Africa and through Native America and Europe and the art of America into a beautiful sculpture gallery overlooking the Green, and then back down the stairs,” says Stomberg. “So there’s this beautiful pattern of moving through the museum now.”  

In addition to showcasing art, each gallery functions as a classroom. “Additionally,” Stomberg says, “we have the Bernstein Center for Object Study—three rooms where classes come and can have specific works taken out of storage so they can study them.”

As workers put finishing touches on the 14-square-foot window jutting out of the gray brick exterior like a large display case, Stomberg says he hopes the Hood, no longer hidden between the Hopkins Center for the Arts and Wilson Hall, will become an even bigger part of everyday campus life than it was before.

“You can pop into the atrium with a cup of coffee or stroll through the museum for 10 minutes between classes. It is a place for serious planned visits and also for unexpected stop-bys,” he says.

Saturday’s public open house will feature refreshments, live music, and giveaways. For more information about the reopening, visit the Hood website.

Charlotte Albright can be reached at [email protected].