With hundreds of students, faculty, staff and community members passing by it every day, the Barrows Rotunda, at the center of the entrance to the Hopkins Center, is one of Dartmouth's most visible exhibition spaces. In the nearly 50 years that it's served the campus art community, countless thousands have been amazed, intrigued and delighted by the special exhibitions of student and faculty art featured there. And the Rotunda's floor to ceiling glass means that the art can be enjoyed from every angle - from both inside and outside the building.
The Rotunda has been part of the Hopkins Center since the very beginning. The gift of John and Marcia Barrows McCrea, parents of Thomas P. McCrea III '53 and the late Stanley B. McCrea '57, the space honors Mrs. McCrea's art patron parents, Stanley H. and Frances S. Barrows. Aside from occasional seasonal appearances by Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the Rotunda has provided an impressive and unusual showcase for campus art since 1962.
But who's behind the exhibition choices for the Rotunda? As director of the Studio Art Exhibition Program, Gerald Auten is responsible for managing the space. "The exhibitions in the Rotunda, as well as the exhibitions that occur in the four other spaces in the Hopkins Center, are chosen by a committee," he explained "We form a group of seven people, mostly faculty in the studio art department. We always do an annual exhibition of work from the student workshops (ceramics, jewelry and woodworking) that coincides with the senior majors exhibitions in the Upper Jewett Exhibition Corridor and the Jaffe-Friede & Strauss Galleries in the spring.
"Other exhibitions are primarily the work of students and visiting faculty. Student work can either be submitted by faculty members or students can give us a proposal themselves for the use of the space," explained Auten.
This year, senior studio art major Kiku Langford '06 will use the space as part of her ongoing exploration of public art (see Dartmouth Life, October 2005). The Rotunda's winter program will also feature work of Soo Sunny Park, Assistant Professor of Studio Art, who joined the faculty this fall.
In the past, the Rotunda has helped emphasize the multimedia nature of the Hopkins Center, where performing and visual arts cross-fertilize and support each other. Margaret Spicer, Professor of Theater, has presented several costume design exhibitions in the Rotunda and Joan Morris, a fabric designer in the theater department, has exhibited her fabrics there.
The Rotunda may be at its best on a winter's evening, when the entire front of the Hopkins Center is lit up like a jewel box. Barrows tempts passersby, offering a gleaming glimpse into Dartmouth's thriving art world.
By PETER WALSH
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Last Updated: 5/30/08