Tamara Holmes Brothers has been appointed to the position of Director of Development at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. Brothers comes to the museum from Fayetteville State University, where she has been a senior development officer and then Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations since 2009. Brothers brings 17 years of fundraising expertise, mostly in academic and cultural institutions, and a lifelong interest in art education.
“Tamara is a brilliant addition to our staff,” said Sarah Schroth, Mary D.B.T. and James H. Semans Director of the Nasher Museum. “She has a successful career in development, with a terrific grasp of the fast-changing world of nonprofit fundraising. The icing on the cake for the Nasher is that she is also passionate and knowledgeable about museums.”
Brothers’s interest in university art museums began when she was an undergraduate student at Hampton University in Virginia, where she was a curatorial intern at the Hampton University Museum & Archives for four years. There, Brothers was one of 12 undergraduates from around the country selected for the intern training program in the project To Conserve a Legacy: American Art from Historically Black Colleges and Universities, curated by Jock Reynolds, Director of the Yale University Art Gallery, and Duke’s own Richard J. Powell, John Spencer Bassett Professor of American, Afro-American and African Art, Art History & Visual Studies. After graduation, Brothers earned a master’s degree in Sport Management from West Virginia University and then joined the senior management team for the athletic department at Fayetteville State University as Assistant Athletic Director for Development & Marketing, raising funds and nurturing fan loyalty for 12 different sports. Soon after exceling in this area, she moved to the Division of Institutional Advancement for Fayetteville State University, where she cultivated corporate and foundation resources and partnerships for the Performing & Fine Arts Department and the Rosenthal Gallery, among other university entities.
The Nasher Museum’s collection of works by artists of African descent was a significant draw for Brothers, who will start the position of Director of Development on October 1. Three years ago, Brothers and a friend drove from Fayetteville to the Nasher Museum to attend a gallery talk with Chief Curator Trevor Schoonmaker and artist Barkley L. Hendricks.
“I can remember this distinctive gentleman entering into the museum, wearing a hat and a camera hanging from his shoulder,” she said. “Immediately, I knew it was ‘the featured artist,’ none other than Mr. Barkley Hendricks himself!”
When the talk began, Brothers heard the clicking of a camera shutter and turned around to see Hendricks circling them, taking photos of her friend’s shoes, right there in the gallery. He had a fascination with high-heeled shoes, he told them, particularly peep-toe heels. He made it a practice of photographing his subjects before transforming those images onto the canvas. “We laughed, we thanked Mr. Hendricks for his time and talent,” Brothers said. “And we were forever changed.”
“Art changes everything, whether it is fine art or performing art,” Brothers said. “Art is not only important because it raises academic achievement, but it is important for social wellbeing, cultural awareness and real-world thinking.”
Universities need museums—and that was the subject of Brothers’ doctorate degree in Educational Management of Higher Education, which she earned at Hampton University in Virginia in 2016.
Brothers has developed a statewide perspective of how cultural institutions improve life in North Carolina over the past decade. She serves on the boards of the North Carolina Arts Council Foundation and the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission. “Cultural organizations are essential to the American arts ecology,” she said.