Dylan Morrill

Equinox Staff


Keene State College recently received a $20,000 grant from the New Hampshire State Conservation License Plate Trust Fund, which is a state-sponsored historical and environmental conservation fund.

It is funded entirely from the proceeds of New Hampshire vanity license plates featuring a moose. The grant will be used to hire a part-time art archivist to help survey and collect all of the artwork on the Keene State College campus.

This is a big step forward for an art collection at Keene State College that can be best characterized as vast. Paintings and illustrations hang on the walls of buildings like the Wallace E. Mason Library, Rhodes Hall, Elliot Center, Parker Hall, and of course the Thorne-Sagendorf Art Gallery.

Rodney Obien, the archivist at the Wallace E. Mason Library, has made it one of his goals to increase student awareness of the art collection here at Keene State College. Obien said, “We have great art. We have a diverse selection of art on campus including one of the largest selections of children’s art. We also have the foremost collection from the Dublin Art Colony.” The Dublin art colony was a group of about 10 artists who flocked to Dublin, N.H. in the late 1800s and early 1900s, originally following in the footsteps of Abbott Handerson Thayer as a sort of Thoreauvian retreat for solitude. The work of the Dublin art colony can now be found at places as well known as the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Rodney and others in the Keene State art community believe that the works of the Dublin art colony as well as the many other works of art in the Keene State collection can be best enjoyed by the Keene State community if they are surveyed and cataloged by a professional archivist. “We have a lot of great pieces,” Rodney said. “A database will make it much easier for us to see what we have and to just have a sense what everything looks like put together.”

Thanks to a New England trademark, the moose, and the New Hampshire Moose License Plate Program, Rodney’s goal may be achieved in the near future.

The Moose License Plate Program is a state-sponsored program that takes all of the proceeds from vanity license plates in New Hampshire, the plates with the moose on them, and puts it in a large trust fund. According to the program’s website, the money is used for the “promotion, protection, and investment in New Hampshire’s natural, cultural, and historic resources.”

The Moose Plate Program has helped fund over 150 projects all over New Hampshire since its inception. The program has helped fund a project in every one of New Hampshire’s 10 counties. Some of the projects the Moose Plate Program has funded include a $10,000 restoration of two historic murals in the Rochester Opera House, a $10,000 restoration of the Holderness Public Library, a $17,000 restoration of the town hall balcony in Gorham, and a $16,759 restoration of hiking trails in Brookline.

Now it’s Keene State College’s turn to get some moose money.

Thanks to a grant co-written by Obien, Keene State College will be receiving funds from the Moose Plate Program. The funds will be used to hire a part-time art archivist for 20 weeks to survey and collect all of the art work in the entire Keene State College collection. The goal is to increase popularity of the art collection among the Keene State College community by eventually putting it into a concise and well-organized online database that is easy to access. “Our hope is to make the art at Keene State more accessible to the community as a whole,” Obien said.

Mackenzie Heinze, a sophomore at KSC who studies art history and plans to go into museum curating after her academic career, thinks the donation from the moose plate program is being put to good use. “I constantly see art in all of the buildings, but I don’t really know much about it. We’ve got a lot of art here at Keene that goes unnoticed and unrecognized, so it’s pretty great that there is finally going to be a collective space for it all,” Heinze said.



Dylan Morrill can be contacted at dmorrill1@ksc.mailcruiser.com.


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