Celebrating a Cultural Ambassador

January 31, 2010

 

Art's guiding lights: from left, Nancy A. Nasher J.D. '79, Semans, and museum's curator of contemporary art, Trevor Schoonmaker.

Art's guiding lights: from left, Nancy A. Nasher J.D. '79, Semans, and museum's curator of contemporary art, Trevor Schoonmaker. Dr. J. Caldwell

Although the Nasher Museum of Art is less than five years old, it has quickly become an integral part of Duke's artistic, cultural, and academic endeavors. But the museum's status as a destination point for the Duke community—as well as for local, regional, and international visitors—took nearly half a century and countless individuals to realize.

On November 14, the Nasher hosted a benefit gala to celebrate the woman at the center of those efforts, Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans '39, Hon. '83, the daughter of Benjamin N. Duke and a trustee emerita. More than 600 well-wishers, from current and past Duke presidents and deans, to local and state politicians, to artists and community activists, attended.

Semans characteristically downplayed her own role, citing the significant support of the arts by people such as Nannerl O. Keohane, Duke's past president, and the late Raymond D. Nasher '43, the benefactor for whom the museum is named. She also invoked the memory of her late husband, James H. Semans Hon. '99, who she said was dedicated to enriching the arts in Duke, Durham, and North Carolina.

All proceeds from the benefit gala will support the Nasher's commitment to serving the Triangle area, particularly through its free educational programs.