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A $1.5 million new Sculpture Garden is the first expansion of the Nasher Museum since it was built in 2005. Admission is free and open to all.

The lush green space opened on September 28, 2019, when more than 1,200 visitors came to experience live performances of Composition 21 by Brooklyn-based, Israeli-born artist Naama Tsabar.

The Sculpture Garden represents the first phase of a vision to build a sculpture park around the perimeter of the Nasher Museum and along Campus Drive. The outdoor space creates a sleek connection between the Nasher Museum and Rubenstein Arts Center, improving accessibility throughout the Duke Arts District and creating a flexible space for outdoor study sessions, performances and more.

Photo by Chris Hildreth / Rooster Media

The centerpiece of the Sculpture Garden is a Piazza that welcomes visitors to the Nasher Museum. Within the Plaza, a framed velvet lawn and a white gallery bench, 44 feet long and more than five feet wide, offer space for play and rest with a view of the Piazza and surrounding landscape. Bluestone, a traditional paving material used throughout Duke’s campus, grounds the space with a modern herringbone design.

The Sculpture Garden is designed to host a variety of university and museum events throughout the seasons. The velvet lawn is resilient to high foot traffic and adorned with an integrated drainage system, creating an all-weather surface. Flush power outlets throughout provide sufficient electricity for complex AV systems such as a projector system which would eventually allow for movies to be projected directly onto the 32-foot exterior wall of the Nasher Museum, creating an outdoor theatre.

Previously enveloped by a dense, overgrown understory, masses of invasive plants were removed from the woodland’s towering pine trees and forest floor a reveal a beautiful welcome Piazza —the centerpiece of the sculpture garden.

The inaugural sculpture in the space is Vessel by Radcliffe Bailey, a 13-foot cone of steel with an open ceiling that creates a skyscape, while a conch shell perched high emanates an ambient soundscape. In the evening, subtle lighting illuminates Vessel, the plaza and the surrounding intimate pathways.

The Nasher Museum plans to commission a vivid street painting across Campus Drive, between the museum and the Rubenstein Arts Center.

The space is designed by West 8 Urban Design & Landscape Architecture, based in Rotterdam and New York. Groundbreaking began in May 2019.


Featured Featured Recent Acquisition

Radcliffe Bailey, Vessel

The Nasher Museum has installed Vessel by Radcliffe Bailey as the first sculpture in the new sculpture park, which opened September 28, 2019. Read more about this below. Vessel is a 13-foot cone of steel ...

Nasher Sculpture Garden Event Policy

Availability of the Sculpture Garden is subject to the museum programming schedule. Priority use of the Sculpture Garden is given to rental requests that are in keeping with the Nasher Museum’s mission. Duke entities and members of the general public interested in sculpture garden use should email

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