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September 23, 1987 - Image 40

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1987-09-23

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Museum between two impossibly contradictory styles

Bridging the Romanesque and the modem: Dartmouth placed its Hood

Showing Art
With Style

New campus museums
attract working artists,
donors-and students

When Williams College opened
the doors of its renovated and
expanded art museum last
fall, the halls were jammed
with glittering, black-tie ce-
lebrities. Artists, dealers, critics and col-
lectors from all over the world descended
on the rustic campus in western-Massa-
chusetts, eager to behold both the new
galleries, designed by the postmodern
master Charles Moore, and the inaugural
exhibition-a retrospective of his drawings
and architectural models that was record-
ed in a luscious 250-page catalog. An emeri-
tus professor of art shook his head and
recalled another era: "In the 1930s our
shows attracted students and scholars. I
don't remember anybody coming to an
opening from New York or Europe. We had
a staff of three, two part-time professors
and a janitor who did all the framing. This
is a whole new world."

Though Williams is exceptional, the tone
is similar across the nation. Once a hang-
dog fringe, housed in creaking buildings,
the art museum is becoming a central fea-
ture of the American campus. In the past
year alone, dramatic new structures have
been commissioned or risen at Ohio
State, California State at Long Beach,
Emory, Dartmouth and Harvard, among
others. Each one is ambitious in budget and
program and designed by an architect who
is either acclaimed-or about to be.
Both the Ohio State and Long Beach mu-
seums, for example, are in the hands of
Peter Eisenman and Jacquelin Robertson,
a brash new partnership known for its un-
conventional architecture. At Emory, the
controversial Michael Graves, heir appar-
ent to Charles Moore's historicist throne,
has turned an elegant old beaux-arts build-
ing in Atlanta into a new Museum of Art
and Archaeology. In addition to his in-
genious renovation at Williams last year,
Moore himself also unveiled a new building
at Dartmouth, the critically acclaimed
Hood Museum of Art. Not longbefore, Har-
vard, in the face of opposition from the local
community and jeers from critics, added
the Arthur M. Sackler Museum, by Brit-
ain's James Stirling, who once won the
fabled Pritzker Prize for architecture.
The unabashed use of celebrated archi-
tects to impress the world beyond the cam-




SEPTgMBER 1987 1

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