Blog / The Development Office: Beyond Financial Responsibility

Posted by Max Feidelson

What is an art museum’s purpose? Can it be defined as a catalyst for education and community outreach? Or rather, to amass and protect our cultural identity?

The Nasher Museum’s mission statement references these ideas and, as an institution, testifies to their importance in maintaining a successful museum. Art museums possess a number of initiatives; whether that is to entertain, to engage or to educate, these goals are pervasive in nature. In the case of the Nasher Museum, the formation, refinement and execution of these motives start with the Development Office. It is in this division that the Nasher Museum’s messages are first conceived.

While the Nasher Museum’s art fosters a tangible connection with its visitors, the development office bears the responsibility of establishing a relationship with the museum’s peripheral community. From current students to foundations to alumni, the Development Office bridges the gap between the Nasher Museum’s collection and its social viability. Given the critical role the alumni play in supporting the Nasher Museum and its initiatives, facilitating clear and captivating channels of communication is imperative. To many alumni’s surprise, the Nasher Museum’s Development Office has demonstrated yet another avenue for alumni and patrons of the arts to connect with the University.

Anna Wu Photography

This connection is meant to extend beyond financial pledges. Through the Development Office, people can volunteer their time by serving on a board or attend events and lectures through the Nasher in New York and Miami programs. This outreach is epitomized by the Open This End: Contemporary Art from the Collection of Blake Byrne exhibition. For years, Mr. Byrne has held an active role in the Nasher Museum’s growth. His commitment and trust have been cultivated over the years, to such a point that he offered to display numerous pieces from his personal collection at the museum. This testifies not only to Mr. Byrne’s generosity, but also the efforts of the Development Office in cultivating a genuine and positive relationship with an alumnus.

Whether you believe that the role of an art museum is to entertain, educate, or anything in between, the Nasher Museum’s Development Office provides an outlet for all parties to take a part in the arts at Duke.


Anna Wu Photography

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