Three new hires in key positions at the Nasher Museum will strengthen community outreach, develop programs that support the museum’s mission and engage in research and interpretation of its fast-growing art collection.
Jade Packer is director of community initiatives, a newly created position charged with building and sustaining meaningful relationships and partnerships, with a focus on leaders and organizations that serve diverse communities in Durham, effective March 1.
Diana Peña is director of education and public programs, overseeing a staff of six responsible for tours, K-12 student and teacher outreach and special events. She arrived at Duke on Feb. 1.
Associate Curator Katherine Werwie is a medieval art scholar who will conceptualize and implement curatorial programming. She will start on June 1.
We are thrilled to welcome three talented and creative individuals to fill such pivotal roles at the museum. Now that our admission is free, we’re seeing an increase in the numbers and diversity of our visitors. We will continue to build a leading-edge collection and exhibition program with a focus on inclusivity and expanding the canon of art history. I’m tremendously excited about Jade, Diana and Kate rounding out our team as we build a dynamic program to serve our communities.Trevor Schoonmaker, Mary D.B.T. and James H. Semans Director of the Nasher Museum
Jade Packer comes to the museum from PBS North Carolina’s education and innovation department. There she led strategic engagements, implementing a statewide ambassador program that increased PBS NC’s reach to underserved communities in all 100 counties. She earned a master’s degree in instructional technology at NC A&T State University and a bachelor’s degree at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
“The thing that I’m most excited about in stepping into this role is the opportunity to build lasting relationships with a broad range of community partners in Durham and beyond,” Jade said. “That is key for our museum in order to thrive, grow and connect with all types of people.”
Diana Peña came to the Nasher Museum from Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Miami, where she was school programs manager. Before that, she was elementary program coordinator at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, also in Miami. She earned a master’s degree in international relations at Universidad Francisco de Vitoria in Madrid. She also earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Universidad de los Andes in Colombia. She was born in Colombia, South America, and has lived in the United States since 2010.
“I was drawn to the Nasher because of the collection and the artists it supports, and how it can help us open the doors to new audiences who might not visit museums,” Diana said. “The art that we have also allows for very rich and interesting conversations around society and interpersonal interactions that can be explored with children and teachers.”
Diana is most eager to produce quality programming, she said. “I am excited to focus my creative skills on the experience the visitor has because I can put myself in the shoes of that person and design a visit that I would enjoy and remember for a long time.”
The museum’s Brummer Collection of medieval art was a big draw for Katherine Werwie. Highlights from the collection include an arch carved with twining figures of men and beasts from the Cathdral of Alife in southern Italy, sculptures of saints and other works that decorated Christian churches, palaces and homes across Europe.
“It’s a fantastic collection of medieval art that has gone a bit under-noticed in the art historical community,” Katherine said. “I am very excited to begin research and help build connections between the historical collection and contemporary works.”
In her role as associate curator, Katherine said she is interested in dispelling outdated myths about medieval society.
“It’s extremely important to both historicize a lot of the systems and institutions that exist today but also to use the collection to blow open ideas we have around medieval Europe. Historic Europe was more diverse than people might think. They were exchanging ideas and materials with north Africa and the Middle East and there were people of different religious and ethnic backgrounds living and creating art within Europe’s borders. We can use narratives about historic European art to examine some of the complex issues of today.”
Katherine comes to Duke from the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, CT, where she works as a graduate research assistant in technical cataloguing; The Met Cloisters in New York, where she was an educator; and the Worcester Art Museum, where she was a Kress Interpretive Fellow. She expects to complete a Ph.D. in the history of art and architecture at Yale University this year. She earned a master’s degree at the University of Cambridge, as well as a bachelor’s degree at Barnard College, Columbia University.