New Director for New Museum

August 1, 2004

Kimerly Rorschach, director of the University of Chicago's David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, has been named the first director of the new Nasher Museum of Art at Duke. The $23-million museum, which was designed by Rafael ViÒoly, is scheduled to open in October 2005. The museum will have a strong focus on modern and contemporary art and will be a cornerstone in Duke's commitment to support the arts on campus and in the Durham-Raleigh community.

Rorschach has been the Dana Feitler Director of the Smart Museum since 1994. Over a nine-year period, she increased the museum's endowment from $3 million to $15 million, secured important grants, and built significant collections in modern, contemporary, and East Asian art, acquiring more than 500 works for the museum's permanent collection. She also increased the museum's private annual support by 300 percent. Rorschach is an associate professor in the University of Chicago's department of art history and a lecturer at the University of Chicago law school, where she co-teaches a course in art law.

"I am honored and tremendously excited to have an opportunity to launch the new Nasher Museum of Art," Rorschach says. "The arts at Duke play a vital role in campus life and in the surrounding community, and this extraordinary new building will provide a platform for many of the university's wonderfully diverse arts programs and initiatives. I am inspired by the brilliant vision for the museum that Rafael ViÒoly has designed, and I am confident that Duke's Nasher Museum of Art will become one of the country's great university art museums."

The 66,000-square-foot Nasher Museum is taking shape near the Sarah P. Duke Gardens at Anderson Street and Campus Drive. ViÒoly designed the central, 10,000-square-foot atrium of steel and glass as the heart of the museum. Fanning out from this space will be five separate pavilions containing three large galleries, a lecture hall, education wing, cafÈ, museum shop, administrative offices, and sculpture gardens.

Rorschach's appointment follows a six-month national search involving more than 100 candidates. She was recommended to President Nannerl O. Keohane and Provost Peter Lange by a nine-member search committee chaired by economics professor Neil De Marchi. Keohane says Rorschach's appointment also had the strong support of President-elect Richard Brodhead. Curator Sarah Schroth has been the museum's interim director.

The Duke University Museum of Art, founded in 1969, has more than 13,000 works of art in its permanent collection and is currently housed in the old science building on East Campus. To date, the Nasher Museum has raised $17.7 million toward the $23-million cost of the project. The museum's namesake is Raymond D. Nasher '43, an internationally prominent art collector, philanthropist, and real-estate developer. He donated $7.5 million for the new building, the largest gift so far. The Nasher Foundation of Dallas subsequently gave another $2.5 million. The Duke Endowment has contributed $2.5 million to name the atrium in honor of its chair emerita and former Duke trustee Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans '39, Hon. '83.

As director of the Nasher Museum of Art, Rorschach will play a key role in shaping the museum. She is expected to pay special attention to building the modern and contemporary art collections, developing a comprehensive program of special exhibitions, and working with artists, critics, and scholars to create an exciting array of related programs for students, faculty members, and the community.

Rorschach is an accomplished curator who has written numerous exhibition catalogues and scholarly studies. She has organized exhibitions ranging from eighteenth-century European art to international contemporary art, including the upcoming "Between Past and Future: New Chinese Photography and Video," organized with the International Center of Photography and the Asia Society in New York and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. She holds a Ph.D. in art history from Yale University and earned her bachelor's degree at Brandeis University.