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Happy New Year!

After 25 years at Duke, I will be retiring in May from my position as director of the Nasher Museum. Turning 68 in September contributed to my decision, but, more importantly, now is the perfect time for the next generation to create a new vision for this beautiful and impactful institution. The next chapter in the Nasher’s history has already begun with our new Sculpture Garden, the first expansion of the museum since it opened in 2005. This exquisite green space is just the first phase of a dream to build a sculpture park around the perimeter of the Nasher Museum and along Campus Drive.

Thanks to wonderful visitors, remarkable staff and amazing colleagues among Duke’s faculty and administration, I have achieved all the initiatives I introduced seven years ago when I was appointed director. One milestone that gives me great pride is creating and implementing a Concentration in Museum Theory and Practice for undergraduates. In three years, Nasher Museum curators and I have taught seven art history classes in the Concentration, which effectively connects the museum with Duke’s undergraduate curriculum.

Another major accomplishment was instituting a unique program for Alzheimer’s patients, linked to Duke Medical Center. Visitors tell us that their loved ones with memory loss light up after a Reflections experience and want to talk about what they did and saw.

The Nasher Teen program was another of my initiatives to develop new audiences—and, I hope, future staff members for museums everywhere. One of our former Nasher Teen Council members, Kennedi Carter, has started a career in fine art photography—and her work was included in a Nasher exhibition featuring area photographers, in 2018!

I’m also proud of overseeing a comprehensive reinstallation of the museum’s historical collection. We shifted the focus of our exhibitions so that 70 percent of all gallery space features art from the permanent collection. As director, I have had the privilege of nurturing a wonderful team of curators, led by Trevor Schoonmaker. Together we have supported a collection and exhibition strategy, initiated in 2006, to emphasize works by diverse artists who have been historically underrepresented and even excluded by mainstream art institutions. I also feel good about encouraging my curators to originate two shows of work by local artists—Area 919 (2015) and Across County Lines (2018).

So many beautiful moments stand out from the past few years. For example, I was delighted to direct the museum in commissioning Odili Donald Odita to paint a mural for the Great Hall. To celebrate our 10th anniversary, Odita also made another large-scale mural downtown, forming a bridge between the Nasher and Durham. It makes me so happy to see that mural on the YMCA wall. It reminds me that we are Durham’s art museum, as former Mayor Bill Bell put it during our grand opening in 2005.
It has been an incredible time—I have made so many good friends among our supporters and members. Thank you all for encouraging me along the way!

If you haven’t seen Art for a New Understanding: Native Voices, 1950s to Now, you have until January 12. A headline in the IndyWeek newspaper says it all: “Indigenous Artists Have Been Excluded from Modern Art. A Revelatory Nasher Exhibit Is Correcting the Canon.”

Our other major exhibition, Cosmic Rhythm Vibrations, will be on view for a few more weeks. We’ll get moving in those galleries with a tour by Duke Music Department students and scholars and then a “Sound Bath Meditation,” encouraging visitors to lie on their backs in the Great Hall to experience a mindful “cosmic carpet” of sound.

On February 27, our galleries will transform again with the major exhibition Ebony G. Patterson . . . while the dew is still on the roses . . ., presenting the work of artist Ebony G. Patterson, born in Jamaica in 1981. She is known for drawings, tapestries, videos, sculptures and installations that involve surfaces layered with flowers, glitter, lace and beads. The artist will deliver the Annual Rothschild Lecture on April 9.

Assistant Curator Molly Boarati has rediscovered gems from our vast collection of works on paper for her large exhibition Graphic Pull: Contemporary Prints from the Collection opening April 2.

On April 25, I will raise a toast to all of you at our 2020 Gala, the first in our new sculpture garden.

I look forward to seeing all of you throughout my last semester at Duke. Let’s make the most of our time together this winter and spring!

Featured Featured Nasher in the News

When Nasher director Sarah Schroth retires in May, she will leave a legacy behind

Sarah Schroth would like you to know that museums don’t run themselves. It takes a lot of effort to get those paintings on the walls of the Nasher Museum of Art — 37 people, actually. And with her coming retirement in May ...

view article on The (Duke) Chronicle | Published November 21, 2019

Featured Featured exhibition

Art for a New Understanding: Native Voices, 1950s to Now

August 29, 2019 – January 12, 2020

Art for a New Understanding: Native Voices, 1950s to Now is the first exhibition to chart the development of contemporary Indigenous art in the United States and Canada. For generations, Native North American arti...

Featured Featured exhibition

Composition 21
by Naama Tsabar

September 28 – September 29, 2019

More than 1,200 visitors thronged the Nasher Museum’s new Sculpture Garden on Saturday, Sept. 28, to experience Composition 21 by Brooklyn-based, Israeli-born artist Naama Tsabar. She created an aurally and visual...

Featured Featured exhibition

Cosmic Rhythm Vibrations

On view now through March 01, 2020

This exhibition highlights works from the Nasher Museum collection that engage visual and musical rhythm. Rhythm may be expressed through repeated patterns of color, form or movement, or, in other cases, implied sound and ...

Featured Featured exhibition

Anarchism and the Political Art of Les Temps Nouveaux, 1895 – 1914

October 05 – December 15, 2019

Anarchism and the Political Art of Les Temps Nouveaux, 1895 – 1914 brought together prints and graphic materials that were donated by key modern European artists in support of the anarchist journal Les Temps N...

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