Controversial Hovey murals to be relocated

by Dartmouth Senior Staff | 9/26/18 11:36pm

The Hovey Murals will move from the basement of the Class of 1953 Commons to an off-campus Hood Museum art storage facility. The decision follows the recommendation of a study group appointed in April after Native American at the College students sent a letter asking for something to be done about the murals.

The murals depict a drinking song in which Dartmouth’s founder introduces literature and rum to Native Americans in the wilderness. The four-panel mural, which also shows nude women, has drawn criticism from students and alumni alike.

“The derogatory images in the Hovey murals convey disturbing messages that are incompatible with Dartmouth’s mission and values,” President Phil Hanlon said in a press release.

The murals, which were created in 1938-39, are located under the dining hall in the Hovey Grill, which used to be a faculty dining room until it was shuttered in the early 1970s. From the early 1980s to the 1990s, the murals were covered with boards. Since 2011, the murals have only been accessible to faculty for teaching purposes.

The debate over the future of the Hovey Murals featured multiple options, including destruction, relocation or simply keeping the murals in Hovey Grill.

“It’s a complicated question because of [the murals’] impact on the Native American community on campus, and because of their value for teaching and scholarship and because of the sentiments of many other generations of Dartmouth alumni who have had a connection to those murals, both positively and negatively,” interim provost David Kotz ’86 said in a prior interview with The Dartmouth.