The first thing that strikes you upon entering the Hood Museum of Art’s new atrium is the sense of space and airiness, inviting exploration of what lies beyond in numerous galleries and classrooms.
The prominent entrance to the new and expanded Hood, with its large black-and-white mural and white walls, opens directly onto the Dartmouth College Green. It offers an inviting space where people can meet and where performances and other events can take place. Perhaps most importantly, it sets the tone for all that is new about the Hood, which reopened on January 26 after major renovation and expansion.
The new museum, adding to the original 1985 Charles Moore building, is designed to bring together Dartmouth’s academic and research activities while emphasizing the college’s vast art collection, one of the largest of its kind in the country with over 65,000 works representing a variety of media and historical periods. The additional space also provides for new and innovative educational opportunities.
“The new Hood will be a place for active engagement,” John Stomberg, director of the Hood Museum of Art, said. “The art installations and programs will be deeply connected to our ever-changing societies and cultures. The museum will continue preserving the past and embracing the present but will also aspire to shape the future by choreographing vital encounters with important works of art. In short, the new Hood will be a responsive museum, committed to the exchange of beliefs and ideas that characterize life today.”
Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, designers of the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago and The Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia among other cultural buildings, worked closely with the museum team and the college in order to design “a progressive teaching museum while preserving many of the distinctive features of the original Moore building.” It honors the museum’s legacy while creating new space, Williams and Tsien said, and that “the two are in relationship with each other.”
The off-white brick façade of the new building was carefully chosen by the architects to complement existing structures along the Green while the Charles Moore stairwell bridges the historic building and the expansion, bringing light into the galleries and offering a view of the atrium below. The vitrine window, a 14-foot plate-glass window overlooking the museum’s front façade from one of the galleries, allows art to be seen from the campus Green and offers an illuminated beacon at night.