The Nasher Museum of Art has received a $5 million gift from its namesake to endow two new programs.
The University announced the two-part gift from Nancy Nasher, Law ’79, and her husband David Haemisegger Wednesday. The first endowment—the Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Family Fund for Acquisitions—will use $4 million to acquire new modern and contemporary art. The remaining $1 million will be dedicated to the Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Family Visiting Curatorship Fund, which will invite visiting curators to develop exhibitions. Nasher founded the museum in 2005 with her late father, Raymond Nasher, Trinity ’43.
“We are passionate about the museum,” Nasher said. “We are so proud of everything that’s been accomplished since its inception, and we’re very honored to be part of it in a small way.”
Museum staff hope to expand its collection in upcoming years, and this gift will play a helpful role, said Kim Rorschach, Mary D.B.T. and James H. Semans director of the Nasher Museum. The curatorship endowment will provide knowledge of areas in which permanent staff members do not have expertise, Rorschach noted.
Rorschach, who has led the Nasher since its founding, will leave this year to become director of the Seattle Art Museum.
“We’d like to have some expert territorial work done—say, on our African collection or pre-Columbian collection, for example, where we don’t have expertise on our staff,” she said. “The visiting curator... will work on collection exhibitions, research, help us steward the collections responsibly and give us expertise.”
The museum’s overall goal is to raise $15 million during the Duke Forward campaign, Rorschach said, expressing her gratitude to Nasher and Haemisegger for the “very significant and meaningful gift.”
In addition to broadening the scope of the museum’s collection, Nancy Nasher said she hopes the museum will be able to provide more educational opportunities in the future.
Rorschach also noted that she would like to see the museum provide more educational programs for the Duke community and its surroundings.
“We want students to enjoy the programs at the museum and the exhibits and to come and have hands-on learning, and do research relating to the actual art that the museum has,” Nancy Nasher said. “We also want to bring young people and children from the Durham community into the museum and begin to educate all the families in the region about how wonderful art is and the joy that it can bring.”
Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations, said the gift fits into a broader initiative to increase funding for the arts as part of Duke Forward.
Duke is soliciting financial support for new curricula in the arts, performances, exhibits and endowments for undergraduate and graduate student scholarships, along with the ability to draw faculty who both study and practice in emerging areas, Schoenfeld wrote in an email Wednesday.
The museum has gained national and international acclaim in the seven years since it opened, Rorschach noted.
Nancy Nasher said she is thrilled with everything that the museum has accomplished in the relatively short time since it began.
“Everyone involved there is committed to excellence and to the highest scholarship and quality, and I look forward to seeing its dynamic growth in all ways throughout the years,” she said.
Schoenfeld said Duke has established a commendable reputation as a center for the arts. He cited dance, the master of fine arts degree in experimental and documentary arts and Duke Performances as notable aspects of Duke’s arts landscape, adding that he expects the University’s arts reputation to continue to improve.
Nancy Nasher said she hopes Duke students will take advantage of the museum, whether it be through studying the art there or eating at the Nasher Cafe.
“We just want the students to use it and enjoy it,” she said. “That’s our goal.”