Nancy A. Nasher was instrumental in the creation of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University (2005) and serves as chair of the museum’s Board of Advisors. Since 1995, Nancy and her husband, David J. Haemisegger, have been co-owners of NorthPark Center in Dallas, the nation’s 4th highest grossing shopping center. More than 200 works of modern and contemporary art from the Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Collection are on view throughout NorthPark, for which it was named “One of the Seven Retail Wonders of the Modern World.” Nancy graduated from The Hockaday School, Princeton University and Duke University School of Law. She was integral to the conception and development of the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas (2003) where she and David remain active board members. They live in Dallas with their three children.
Have you discovered any exciting artists lately? Please share one with us.
It’s hard to pick just one—there are so many interesting artists living today! Before the Venice Biennale in 2017, we visited Damien Hirst’s studio and foundry outside of London as he prepared for Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable. The project was 10 years in the making and would be installed across 50,000 square feet in two venues in Venice, the Punta della Dogana and the Palazzo Grassi. David and I were among the first to watch more than 100 workers fabricate many of the pieces in the foundry. Spending the day with Damien gave us such wonderful insight into his creative process. His attention to detail was inspirational. It was thrilling, as spectators, to see an artist realize his dream.
What is your favorite exhibition that you’ve seen in the past year, in all of your travels?
One exhibition that deeply moved me this year was Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman & Designer at The Met Fifth Avenue. So much so that we visited the exhibition four times! Michelangelo’s life as an architect, poet, painter, sculptor and draftsman was unparalleled and his genius was incomparable. We were so fortunate to be able to study his life through his drawings. It is another testament to his brilliance that centuries later he continues to teach and inspire us.
Where do you find artists whose work you wish to collect?
Museums, galleries, art fairs and, of course, the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas and the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke. Sarah Schroth, the director of the Nasher Museum, and her curatorial team are visionary, discovering artists on the cutting edge long before anyone else. Deputy Director Trevor Schoonmaker’s direction of Prospect.4: The Lotus in Spite of the Swamp in New Orleans last year presented so many extraordinary finds. David and I also traveled to Documenta, Skulptur Projekte Münster, Venice Biennale, Art Basel, Frieze New York and other exhibits with Sarah and her team. Discovering new talent alongside such brilliant scholars makes it even more exciting and rewarding.
How much time do you spend collecting art?
When you love living and working with art, it becomes part of your everyday life. In those windows of time between work and family, we are constantly researching artists and planning visits to studios, shows and exhibitions. We are very fortunate to be living at a time when it is possible to follow so many exception- al artists, at various stages of their careers, as they continue to evolve, explore and change.
How does collecting art fit into your daily work?
We collect art to live with in our home and also for NorthPark Center, which we consider our second home. NorthPark is the only shopping center in the world with more than 200 museum-quality modern and contemporary works of art on display. Rather than commercial kiosks and visual clutter, we intentionally utilize NorthPark’s common areas, spaces and gardens as unconventional art venues. More than 26 million visitors each year enjoy works created by many of the most influential artists of the last century for free. That brings us so much joy! We recently expanded the impact of our collection at NorthPark by adding a director of art programming and collaborations, spearheaded by a Duke University art history graduate. Sharing the art we love with people from every walk of life has become part of our mission. We hope it makes a difference in their lives—we know it has in ours.