On Solid Ground

Dartmouth seems so grounded in space, especially to a student here for four years seeing little change and plenty of indicators of stability. There is a sense of something solid, not static so much as stable. Old buildings and history around every corner create a sense that things don’t change, but that is far from the reality. Looked at over 250 years, the social, physical, and intellectual space is ever shifting. It welcomes some and excludes others. It creates security but also poses threats. It is bucolic, yet cosmopolitan. It is stable, but ever in flux.

There is something odd about a college campus with so few maps and signs scattered among the buildings. It assumes a sense of community, but it can also systematically exclude those outside of the community. This exhibit strives to provide a kind of map of campus—one that shows the spaces that make up Dartmouth, but one that also shakes the illusion of stability and questions who and how these spaces serve.


You can view "On Solid Ground" in the Baker Library Main Hall. The exhibition will be up from January 2nd until March 21st, 2019.

Curators' Statement

In many ways, this exhibit curated itself. Over the past ten years we have been using the stories told here to teach classes, create exhibitions, write blog posts, and record podcasts. These stories are the basis for many events hosted here in Rauner Special Collections Library.
Dartmouth has a rich past replete with stories that are relevant to current issues on campus and across the curriculum. These issues sometimes make you feel proud and empowered, and sometimes they make you want to take action to change our environment. In this exhibit we tried to give you a little of both. One might not expect to confront shifting cultural norms in an exhibit about Dartmouth as a physical place, but geography is a cultural construct and Dartmouth’s social and intellectual world is always reshaping Dartmouth’s physicality.
We invite you to take a look at Dartmouth past and choose what you want to celebrate and what you want to change. We also invite you to look around campus with an eye to how physical, intellectual, and social spaces on campus shape your experience. Most of all, we hope you can re-map Dartmouth to make it your Dartmouth.

"On Solid Ground" was curated by Peter Carini and Jay Satterfield. Exhibit design by Dennis Grady. Omeka exhibit by Shaun Akhtar and Laura Braunstein.