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Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Dartmouth College has received the largest commitment in its history, $50 million, from an anonymous family. Their extraordinary gift will enable the College to move forward with plans for a visual arts center. The center will break ground in 2010 and serve as an intellectual and cultural hub for the Dartmouth community, revitalizing the arts precinct on the south edge of campus.
“This is a spectacular gift from a family that has given long service to Dartmouth,” said President James Wright. “During these tough economic times, this family’s willingness to make such a gift is truly inspiring. In the early years of my presidency, my colleagues and I set forth a plan to improve specific areas of the physical campus. The Board of Trustees approved this plan, and many contributors have helped to advance it. Our goal was to give students and faculty well-designed and environmentally advanced facilities in which to carry out their work, including this new visual arts center. Arts are at the heart of a liberal arts education, and have always been vital to the Dartmouth experience, empowering students to think creatively, challenge assumptions, and wrestle with demanding and often unfamiliar media. We are honored by this act of generosity which is a formidable endorsement of Dartmouth’s purpose, capacity for excellence, and future promise.”
The visual arts center was designed by the architects Machado and Silvetti Associates of Boston, whose recent works include the Getty Villa in Malibu, the Rockefeller Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, and additions to Bowdoin College’s historically significant Walker Art Building. The center will expand the accessibility of already robust programs in Studio Art and Film and Media Studies by consolidating these two departments, currently spread across campus, in one building. It will permit increased course offerings and encourage formal, interdisciplinary collaborations between departments.
“Dartmouth faculty view the arts as a powerful way to understand human culture and history, and when practiced, to stimulate creativity, flexibility, and leadership,” said Dean of Faculty Carol Folt. “This gift will have an immediate impact on Dartmouth’s intellectual and cultural environment. It will galvanize the talented faculty we already have and attract others, create new opportunities for innovative teaching, and offer more students the chance to experience the creative process first-hand.”
At 99,000 square feet, the visual arts center will meet Dartmouth’s strict sustainability and energy conservation guidelines. It will be located on Lebanon Street and include a spacious outdoor plaza linking it to Dartmouth’s Hopkins Center for the Performing Arts and the Hood Museum of Art, creating an arts “district” and an inviting southern gateway to the Green at the center of campus. It will include classrooms, studios, and offices in addition to the Loew Auditorium (relocated from the Hood) and a 50-seat screening room.
The heart of the building will be the arts forum, a soaring, three-story space just inside the entrance that will enable informal gatherings, exhibitions of student and faculty work, and viewings of big-screen films. At the building’s center sits a shared digital humanities media laboratory. Studios are designed to let painters be painters. Printmakers will find high ceilings, abundant light, large worktables, and state-of-the art ventilation. Filmmakers will have controlled conditions for sound, light, and temperature. Drawing students will have movable desks, benches, model stands, and pedestals. For sculptors: suitable spaces for welding and metal fabrication, a wood and machine shop, and an outdoor sculpture court.
Nearly 1,100 Dartmouth students took arts courses last year taught by practicing scholars and artists. The majority were not art majors, and included engineering and computer science undergraduates seeking to sharpen their design and fabrication skills through courses in drawing, painting, sculpture, and architecture; English and creative writing students exploring other media; and others interested in a hands-on, conservatory-level experience with the visual arts.
The family’s commitment is part of the College’s Campaign for the Dartmouth Experience, the most ambitious fund-raising initiative in Dartmouth’s history. With a $1.3 billion goal, the campaign is seeking investment in four initiatives: to advance leading-edge teaching and scholarship; to enhance residential and campus life; to honor its commitment to making education accessible in the undergraduate college; and to raise unrestricted dollars. The campaign is institution wide, embracing its undergraduate and graduate programs in the arts and sciences and its three professional schools, Tuck School of Business, Thayer School of Engineering, and Dartmouth Medical School.
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