Duke’s 2013 Founders’ Day Convocation was a special day in the life of the Nasher Museum of Art. Our own Blake Byrne, chair emeritus of the Board of Advisors, collector extraordinaire, and generous donor, received the Distinguished Alumni Award. An influential champion of the Nasher Museum, Blake has worked long and hard for this museum — recruiting board members, securing support to make the museum a reality, and supporting the museum through donations of his own contemporary artwork. It was a proud moment in the history of Duke and the Nasher Museum.
I will always remember the first time I met Blake, in the old Duke University Museum of Art. He spoke with Duke undergrads in my office, explaining how he became a collector. His unbounded enthusiasm and great belly laugh coupled with his self-knowledge encouraged Duke students to think about being involved in the exciting world of art — as curators, gallery owners, directors of auction houses or collectors themselves. One student asked him what was the first artwork that got him so interested in collecting contemporary art. Do you know what he said? El Greco. Of course I cannot forget that! It cemented our friendship forevermore. Congratulations, Blake. No one could deserve this award more!
Mary D.B.T. and James H. Semans Director