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Past Exhibitions

Crossing Cultures

The Owen and Wagner Collection of Contemporary Aboriginal Australian Art at the Hood Museum of Art

September 15, 2012, through March 10, 2013
Danny Gibson Tjapaltjarri, Mukula

This exhibition highlights the extraordinary Owen and Wagner Collection at the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, through its display of more than one hundred works of contemporary Indigenous art from Australia. These objects are by artists from outback communities as well as major metropolitan centers and span five decades of creative activity. They also represent the many art-making practices of Aboriginal peoples across the Australian continent, including acrylic paintings on linen and canvas, earthen ochre paintings on bark, board, and canvas, and sculpture in a variety of media. While the exhibition features many influential artists who have contributed to the development of an Indigenous art canon since the 1970s, the focus is squarely on subsequent generations of artists, who are breathing new life into ancient stories and broadening the possibilities of Indigenous art. The exhibition therefore also includes contemporary paintings that recall the ancestral narratives of the Dreaming as well as photographs from urban-based artists who depict the contemporary realities of Indigenous people from Australia. Resonant with cultural memory, these objects reference and... read more

Agents of Change

Metamorphosis and the Feminine

July, through August, 2012

This installation features seven works of art which touch upon moments of feminine metamorphosis. In them, women are agents of change: they cause change and/or are changed themselves. Through these works, the unique relationship between the feminine and transformation becomes clear, and metamorphosis in turn becomes an act that can emancipate women from the confines of their traditional gender roles, to one degree or another.

Aerial Perspectives

Grounded in an Infinite Landscape

January 29, 2011, through February 27, 2011

The works of art in this exhibition are all abstracted depictions of landscapes from an aerial perspective, a point of view that draws us into the work through an intensified experience of the entire composition. They all share the same basic focus, evoking some geographical construct or another, and a sense of place. While they have a visually abstract quality, this does not mean that we become lost. Rather, the means through which the artists masterfully render their subjects (including line, color, light, shadow, volume, and depth) encourage us to take an active role in these works’ realization. They ground us, ironically, as we examine them from every angle, following the symphony of marks along the surface and subconsciously constructing the imagined landscape both within and beyond the edges of the frame.

Dreaming Their Way

Australian Aboriginal Women Painters

October 07, 2006, through December 10, 2006

The first-ever exhibition of its kind in the United States, Dreaming Their Way features intensely colorful canvases and intricate bark paintings by thirty-three Indigenous female artists from across the Australian continent. The paintings demonstrate these women's bold and often experimental interpretations of their cultural heritage. Works from renowned artists such as Dorothy Napangardi and the late Emily Kame Kngwarreye express the Indigenous relationship to the land, understanding of the world, and sense of obligation to their culture. Collectively, these works will encourage visitors to view contemporary Australian Indigenous art as one of the great art movements of our time.

Coaxing the Spirits to Dance

Art and Society in the Papuan Gulf of New Guinea

April 01, 2006, through September 17, 2006

Coaxing the Spirits to Dance is first major exhibition about the art of the Papuan Gulf in over forty years. This exhibition will explore the relationship between social life and artistic expression since the nineteenth century in one of the most important art-producing regions of Papua New Guinea. It includes one hundred magnificent art objects from the Hood’s own important collection of Melanesian art, including the Franklin Family Collection, and select other public and private collections. The exhibition features ancestor boards, masks, drums, skull racks, and personal items. It will examine the effects of colonialism on artistic production, the variation of styles among differing social structures and cultural practices, and the relationship between patterns of collecting and interpretations of art and culture in the Papuan Gulf. A fully illustrated scholarly catalogue accompanies the exhibition. Coaxing the Spirits to Dance will travel to The Metropolitan Museum of Art from October 24, 2006, through December 2, 2007.


The Museum as Hunter and Gatherer

May 21, 2005, through February 12, 2006

To collect up to a final limit is not simply to own or to control the items one finds; it is to exercise control over existence itself through possessing every sample, every specimen, every instance of an unrepeatable and nowhere duplicated series.

—Roger Cardinal and John Elsner, The Cultures of Collecting

col·lec·ta·ne·a 1.) Passages, remarks, etc., collected from various sources; (as collect. sing.) a collection of passages, a miscellany. 2.) A selection of passages from one or more authors; an anthology.

This exhibition illuminates the broader social history of the Hood by exploring the diverse "authors" of its collection history and will look at how the museum's collection has been developed and (re)defined over time. Uniting traditional with contemporary and Western with non-Western art via pottery, sculpture, utilitarian objects, textiles, photographs, and prints, col·lec·ta·ne·a explores different collecting practices and ideologies that reflect the museum's unique identity as a hunter and gatherer of material culture. Topics addressed in the exhibition include the role of private collectors in developing museum collections; the... read more

Dreaming of Country

Painting, Place, and People in Australia

March 06, 2004, through December 05, 2004

The epic narratives of the Dreaming, the genesis of land and humanity, comprise the most powerful means of organizing, understanding, and reconstituting the significance of place and people in Australian Aboriginal societies. This exhibition features eleven contemporary Aboriginal paintings depicting stories from the Dreaming. In these abstract works, desert artists evoke the connection between land and visual narrative in order to convey and preserve cultural heritage, identity, and knowledge despite two hundred years of oppressive settler governance and alienation from their homelands.

Polynesian Tapa

Decorated Barkcloth from Tonga and Samoa

October 23, 2004, through November 28, 2004

Anthropological Perspectives on Ritual Objects

April 03, 2004, through May 02, 2004

Changing Traditions in Pacific Art

September 07, 2002, through November 10, 2002
Hood Museum