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Paint, Pixels, and Preservation

Manton Foundation gift endows Digital Library Program and Orozco mural conservation

A major gift from the Manton Foundation will create a $3 million endowment to support the Dartmouth College Library's Digital Library Program. An additional $1 million endowment will support preservation and education programs for The Epic of American Civilization, a mural in the Reserve Reading Room of Baker Library painted by Mexican artist José Clemente Orozco between 1932 and 1934. In recognition of the Manton gift, the Reserve Reading Room on the lower level of Baker Library will be renamed the Orozco Room.

Oronzo Epic
The Hispano-America panel (#16) from José Clemente Orozco's The Epic of American Civilization mural in Baker Library. (Courtesy Hood Museum of Art)
The 3,200-square-foot mural, one of Dartmouth's art treasures, traces the history of the Americas from the migration of the Aztecs into central Mexico to the development of modern, industrialized society. The frescoes are considered some of the finest examples of mural painting in the United States.

In addition to conserving the murals, the $1 million endowment will support programs facilitating their study and use for educational purposes. It will also provide for improvements to the Orozco Room and underwrite a Hood Museum of Art curatorial fellowship that will bear the Orozco name.

Sandy Morton Niles
Sandra Morton Niles ’90 (Photo by John Sherman)

"These endowments are made to honor the memory of my grandparents, Sir Edwin and Lady Manton," says Sandra Morton Niles '90, spokesperson for the Manton Foundation. "I have fond memories of studying in the Reserve Reading Room as a student at Dartmouth because the space was made so much more alive by the murals. Our gift reflects my family's appreciation of the importance of the work and my grandparents' lifelong support of the arts."

The Manton Foundation was formed by Edwin A. G. Manton, who was born in England in 1909. Sir Edwin was a major benefactor of the Tate Gallery in London, becoming its most generous benefactor after its founder, Sir Henry Tate. Sir Edwin was knighted in 1994 by Queen Elizabeth II of England in recognition of his charitable contributions to the Tate.

"I admired Sir Edwin immensely, and I am so pleased that the Manton Foundation has made this generous gift in his memory," says President James Wright. "At Dartmouth we stress a hands-on, experiential approach to learning, whether it's in the humanities, the sciences, or social sciences. Generations of students have studied the Orozco murals, or studied under them in Baker Library. This gift will not only safeguard and promote one of our cherished artworks, but will help advance our digital media program, which is a major priority for the College."

The goal of the Dartmouth College Library's Digital Library Program is to digitize its collections and other scholarly material in order to offer new services to faculty, students, alumni, and the wider public. Among the potential print and manuscript collections to be digitized are the unique works from the Stefansson Collection on Polar Exploration; original artwork from the Edward P. Sine '51 Collection of British Illustrated Books; Daniel Webster, Class of 1801, manuscripts, including his writings, notes, and correspondence; and pre-1700 illuminated manuscripts and selected texts in the Dartmouth College Library, including the 15th-century Brut Chronicle.

The Manton Foundation gift responds to Dartmouth's commitment to support the work and resources of the Dartmouth College Library and the Hood Museum of Art, which are priorities in the College's $1.3 billion Campaign for the Dartmouth Experience.

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Last Updated: 6/23/08