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From the Director

Trevor Schoonmaker, Mary D.B.T. and James H. Semans Director. Photo by J Caldwell.
Trevor Schoonmaker, Mary D.B.T. and James H. Semans Director. Photo by J Caldwell.

I am proud to present our 2020 online Annual Report (July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020)—my first as director of the Nasher Museum.

The first nine months of last fiscal year unfolded with a series of exciting milestones and a robust schedule of exhibitions, artist talks and events. Our activities came to a sudden, temporary stop (along with the rest of the world) on March 13, 2020. The final three months of our fiscal year were unprecedentedly quiet because of COVID-19, the global pandemic. I accepted the director position on May 8, 2020, about six weeks after the Nasher Museum closed because of health and safety concerns.

While the year wrapped up during a confusing and frightening time, this report will share some of our favorite moments from before the pandemic hit. This story, in words and pictures, reveals how our museum staff took on the difficult challenges of last spring and reached even greater heights. Together, we found new ways to enliven and inspire community through art.

Nasher by the Numbers:
July 1, 2019 –
June 30, 2020

$1.5 million

Cost of new Sculpture Garden

1,200

People in crowd on opening day of Sculpture Garden

21

Local musicians who performed in Composition 21 by Naama Tsabar, on opening day

3

Major exhibitions that opened

3

Special gallery installations

316

Works of art acquired

1,865

Weight in pounds of Corridor Pin, Blue, by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen

4,780

Weight in pounds of first sculpture installed in Sculpture Garden, Vessel by Radcliffe Bailey

48

Visual artists hosted by the museum for public talks and demonstrations

11

Installation crew members that assisted artist Ebony G. Patterson in her immersive solo exhibition

12,748

Silk flowers hand placed within Ebony G. Patterson . . . while the dew is still on the roses . . . exhibition, floor to ceiling

10

Days the Ebony G. Patterson . . . while the dew is still on the roses . . . exhibition was open before it closed

150

Crafters who made “lovely wicked crowns” in the Great Hall one evening

3

Hip-hop artists and hoop dancers who performed in the Sculpture Garden, [Frank Waln (Lakota) and the Sampson Brothers (Seneca and Muscogee Creek)]

4,568

Duke students who visited to study the collections, tour the galleries and attend social events

7

Undergraduate students who co-curated the Cultures of the Sea: Art of the Ancient Americas exhibition

1,245

Visitors at three Family Day events

19

Area teens on the Nasher Teen Council

260

Children and their caregivers who enjoyed stories read aloud in Spanish and English

1,212

Number of K-12 students reached in Zoom sessions by gallery guides and museum education staff between April and June

18

Live musical performances in the galleries for visitors with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers, as part the Reflections Program

63

Virtual talks for the Reflections Program

527

Participants in Reflections Program virtual talks

2,025

Visitors who took part in adult public tours in person

618

Enjoyed virtual experiences with gallery guides and education staff between March and June

146

K-12 teachers who visited for free workshops

3,320

K-12 visitors who took part in guided or self-guided tours in person

44,243

Visitors to the museum between July 1, 2019, and March 12, 2020

0

Visitors between March 13 and June 30

2

Years the original, traveling exhibition Roy Lichtenstein: History in the Making, 1948 – 1960 has been postponed at the Nasher

 

The Sculpture Garden

A huge crowd experiences two live performances of Composition 21 by Brooklyn-based, Israeli-born artist Naama Tsabar, who create an aurally and visually immersive performance featuring 21 local musicians who identify as women and/or gender nonconforming. Photo by J Caldwell.

In fall 2019, the museum expanded its grounds for the first time since opening in 2005—with a $1.5 million new Sculpture Garden. More than 1,200 visitors came to our opening event on Sept. 28, 2019, despite the 90-degree heat and high humidity. The crowd experienced two live performances of Composition 21 by Brooklyn-based, Israeli-born artist Naama Tsabar, who created an aurally and visually immersive performance featuring 21 local musicians who identify as women and/or gender nonconforming. For visitors, sound became physical as they moved amongst the musicians standing on their pedestal-like amplifiers.

Naama Tsabar, Composition 21

Composition 21 by Naama Tsabar was organized and commissioned by the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, 2019. Video documentation and production by Kidethnic.com. Artwork © Naama Tsabar. Video © Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.

Composition 21 was supported by The Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Family Fund for Exhibitions and was made possible, in part, by Ellen Cassilly, Frank Konhaus, and the Cassilhaus Artist-in-Residence Program.

First Sculpture

Radcliffe Bailey, Vessel (detail), 2017. Steel, conch shell and stereo. Collection of the Nasher Museum. Museum purchase with funds provided by the Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Family Fund for Acquisitions, 2018.9.1. © Radcliffe Bailey. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery. Photo by Jess Wilcox.

The first sculpture installed in the new green space, Vessel, by Radcliffe Bailey, is a 13-foot cone of steel with an open ceiling that creates a skyscape. Inside, visitors are surprised to find a conch shell perched high; the shell emanates an ambient soundscape.

Visitors enjoy the opening event for Art for a New Understanding: Native Voices, 1950s to Now. Photo by J Caldwell.

Native Voices

Jeffrey Gibson, Radiant Tushka (detail), 2018. Repurposed quilt, assorted glass, plastic and stone beads, printed chiffon, nylon ribbon, canvas, acrylic paint, nylon fringe, copper, and artificial sinew, 95 ½ x 64 x 2 ½ inches (242.57 x 162.56 x 6.35 cm). Courtesy of the artist and Kavi Gupta, Chicago. Photography by Peter Mauney.
Jeffrey Gibson, Radiant Tushka (detail), 2018. Repurposed quilt, assorted glass, plastic and stone beads, printed chiffon, nylon ribbon, canvas, acrylic paint, nylon fringe, copper, and artificial sinew, 95 ½ x 64 x 2 ½ inches (242.57 x 162.56 x 6.35 cm). Courtesy of the artist and Kavi Gupta, Chicago. Photography by Peter Mauney.

The Nasher was proud to present our first exhibition of work by Native American and Indigenous artists, Art for a New Understanding: Native Voices, 1950s to Now. In fact, this was the first-ever major survey of contemporary Indigenous art in this country. Marshall N. Price, Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, served as an advisor during the planning of Art for a New Understanding and was the coordinating curator while it was at the Nasher. Marshall led our staff’s community outreach efforts with members of the Indigenous community, resulting in rich programs and meaningful new relationships.

 

American Indians are alive and well, and we have many stories to tell. John Wayne didn’t get rid of all the Indians. We are living and breathing.

Danny Bell (Lumbee/Coharie), Nasher Museum Friends Board member
Featured Featured Podcast

Native Voices: Danny Bell

In this episode of the Nasher Museum Podcast, you’re listening to Danny Bell (Lumbee/Coharie), president of the Triangle Native American Society and retired program coordinator for the Curriculum in American Indian Studies...

Duration 4m05s Published

Semans Lecture

Candice Hopkins, one of three co-curators of Art for a New Understanding: Native Voices, 1950s to Now, delivered the Annual Semans Lecture on October 3, 2019. Hopkins is Tlingit and a citizen of Carcross/Tagish First Nation, Yukon, Canada. Her writing and curatorial practice explores the intersections of history, contemporary art and indigeneity.

Artists are approaching a lot of what they do with a great deal of humor. The only way you can talk about some of the questions they are talking about, which is the formation of this land, and potentially dispossession, is sometimes through the lens of humor, because that is what brings us together.

Candice Hopkins (Tlingit and a citizen of Carcross/Tagish First Nation, Yukon, Canada), in a Nasher podcast episode.
Featured Featured Podcast

Native Voices: Candice Hopkins

In this episode of the Nasher Museum Podcast, you’re listening to Candice Hopkins, one of three co-curators of Art fo...

Duration 7m49s Published

Students from Duke’s Music Department perform their own compositions inspired by art in Cosmic Rhythm Vibrations. Photo by J Caldwell.

Cosmic Rhythm Vibrations

Our major Fall 2019 collection show, Cosmic Rhythm Vibrations, was Trevor Schoonmaker’s most recent curatorial project, just before he became director. This exhibition not only embodies the museum’s collection strategy of focusing on global artists of color, it also reveals Trevor’s penchant for starting his exhibition research with music.

Most of the works came from the museum’s contemporary collection, but the exhibition also included modern paintings, 19th-century prints, traditional African instruments and ancient American ceramics.

Cultures of the Sea: Student-Curated Exhibition

More than 80 visitors gathered to hear a gallery talk by Duke undergraduate students on the exhibition they co-curated, Cultures of the Sea: Art of the Ancient Americas, in the Incubator Gallery. They organized the exhibition through a Curatorial Practicum class taught at the Nasher Museum by Julia McHugh, Ph.D., Trent A. Carmichael Curator of Academic Initiatives. Photo by Wendy Hower.
More than 80 visitors gather to hear a gallery talk by undergraduate students on the exhibition they co-curated, Cultures of the Sea: Art of the Ancient Americas, in the Incubator Gallery. They organized the exhibition through a Curatorial Practicum class taught at the Nasher Museum by Julia McHugh, Ph.D., Trent A. Carmichael Curator of Academic Initiatives. Photo by Wendy Hower.

The Nasher Museum has always nurtured students and served as a supportive environment for our Duke faculty who dream big. This past year, we exceeded our own high expectations with Cultures of the Sea: Art of the Ancient Americas, a beautiful exhibition co-curated by seven undergraduate students in the Curatorial Practicum: Exhibition Development and Design course in the Museum Theory & Practice Concentration, taught by Julia McHugh, Ph.D., Trent A. Carmichael Curator of Academic Initiatives at the Nasher Museum.

In addition to researching each object and writing labels, the students began 3D printing objects that museum visitors can touch.  They also worked in collaboration with Duke Radiology to do CT scans of several of the featured objects. Those scans showed how many of the works also functioned as musical instruments.

Ebony G. Patterson

Installation view of Ebony G. Patterson . . . while the dew is still on the roses . . . , Speed Art Museum, June 21, 2019 – January 5, 2020. © Ebony G. Patterson. All work courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago. Photo by Sarah Lyon.
Installation view of Ebony G. Patterson . . . while the dew is still on the roses . . . , Speed Art Museum, June 21, 2019 – January 5, 2020. © Ebony G. Patterson. All work courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago. Photo by Sarah Lyon.

In February, just before the pandemic hit, one of our large gallery pavilions was transformed into a lush and provocative garden—the most significant exhibition to date of work by artist Ebony G. Patterson. Hyperallergic.com named Ebony G. Patterson . . . while the dew is still on the roses . . . one of the top 20 U.S. art shows of 2019.

Patterson’s art tills curious notions of time and passage without the usual pretensions that accompany this sort of subject matter. I still remember the experience today, even as the details of the art has slowly faded away. It was brilliant.

Hrag Vartanian in Hyperallergic.com
Featured Featured Video

In the artist’s own words: Ebony G. Patterson

by Nasher Museum Duration 3m 15sec Published

Rothschild Lecture

The Rothschild Lecture, a conversation between Ebony and Richard J. Powell, John Spencer Bassett Professor of Art & Art History and professor in the Department of African and African American Studies at Duke, was originally scheduled for April 9, 2020. We had to postpone it for months, but then hosted their talk virtually on December 2, 2020. From her Chicago apartment, Ebony spoke via Zoom (video conferencing) with Rick, whose Durham garden filled the screen behind him. Their lively conversation covered family and geography in her native Jamaica, a recent discovery that the artist’s great-grandmother is distantly related to Marcus Garvey, how she made her peace with gardens and her inspiration behind Ebony G. Patterson . . . while the dew is still on the roses . . . .

Kingston is the creative capital of the world, you know? If America is an economic superpower, then Jamaica is a cultural superpower. And that is not an if, an and or a but! It’s just a fact.

Ebony G. Patterson

Virtual Tours and Experiences

Before the pandemic, half of all visitors to the Nasher Museum arrived through the website, not in person. Still, we tended to focus most of our efforts on in-person exhibitions and events. After the museum closed temporarily, however, the staff and I shifted priorities in an effort to share art with broader audiences. Virtual experiences, we began to realize, are the way of the future for the global art world.

Early in April 2020, we began to think about how to offer high-quality experiences that allow visitors to return to an exhibition again and again, even after they leave the museum. When the pandemic is over, we will continue to offer access to artwork beyond what is possible in person. Virtual tools allow for incredibly focused, close-up images that allow visitors to zoom in and slowly explore works of art. Video conferencing platforms allow our curators and gallery guides to interact with visitors who face barriers to visiting in person. Our education staff quickly moved the Reflections Program for people with dementia and their caregivers to Zoom and found a very enthusiastic reception.

Featured Featured Nasher in the News

How a Vital Art Education Program for People With Alzheimer’s Successfully Moved Online

Before March 11, Reflections tour groups met in person. However, due to extra precautions related to the novel coronavirus and North Carolina’s stay at home orders, the Nasher pivoted the program virtually via Zoom.

view article on Hyperallergic.com | Published June 01, 2020

VIRTUAL TOUR:
Ebony G. Patterson . . . while the dew is still on the roses . . .

Travel virtually through this immersive installation environment that evokes a night garden. Glide up the walls and ceiling to view floral arrangements, purple butterflies, glittering black shoes. Float across surfaces layered with flowers, glitter, lace and beads.

When the museum had to close temporarily because of the pandemic, the Nasher Museum partnered with Duke’s Wired! Lab for Digital Art History & Visual Culture to begin creating virtual experiences of exhibitions. Mark Olson, assistant professor of the practice of Visual & Media Studies at Duke, became our faculty advisor for digital projects at the Nasher. I am proud of how these projects began taking place so quickly and collaboratively across many museum departments. We reached out to the seven undergraduate students, who had graduated in May, and asked them to record themselves as avatars (Memojis) to help humanize the new virtual tour of Cultures of the Sea: Art of the Ancient Americas.

Featured Featured Articles

VIRTUAL EXHIBITION:
Cultures of the Sea: Art of the Ancient Americas

We invite you to visit our first-ever interactive virtual exhibition, Cultures of the Sea: Art of the Ancient Americas<...

Published

Featured Featured Nasher in the News

The Nasher goes virtual with new digital projects

“The landscape of immersive museum tech changes every day, so I would encourage students to think deeply about the tools that would enhance their museum experience –– then go out and build them. The Nasher staff are embrac...

view article on The (Duke) Chronicle | Published September 10, 2020

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...

Featured Featured Articles

Rob Knebel: New Deputy Director of Operations

Arts organizations need great art; they also need great numbers. The combination of budget supervision and service to artists drew Rob Knebel to the Nasher Museum, where he accepted the position of Deputy Director of Opera...

Published

Featured Featured Articles

Remembering Jenny Tone-Pah-Hote

“We need to be in charge of our own art. We need to determine what the parameters are. This is the manifesto. This is the beginning of a long conversation.” – Jenny Tone-Pah-Hote, member of the Kiowa Tribe of O...

Published

Featured Featured Video

Haiku in the Rain

Five haiku poets of the Carolina African American Writers’ Collective gathered in the Nasher Museum Sculpture Garden and responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and the global pro...

by Nasher Museum Duration 4m 47sec Published

Acquisitions to the Collection 2020

Financials, July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020

Donor List, July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020

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The Nasher Museum is open to the public with new health and safety protocols and free admission for all. We strongly encourage all individuals to be fully vaccinated before visiting the Nasher. Find updates and the latest information on Duke’s Coronavirus Response website.