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New green space between the Nasher and the Ruby 'will bring art outdoors'

Graphically rendered above is the planned outdoor space and sculpture garden, which will visually connect the Nasher Museum of Art and Rubenstein Arts Center.

When the Nasher Museum of Art opened in 2005, its founders envisioned an outdoor space to accompany the art within its walls. In a $1.5 million project scheduled to inaugurate next fall, this vision will finally come to fruition, with an outdoor space and sculpture garden connecting the Nasher and the Rubenstein Arts Center.

“We hope this project makes the arts more accessible for all (both for the Duke community and those passing through), that it will offer an exciting space for Duke programming and events, and that it will bring people together within the Arts District, an area of campus that is changing rapidly and has a lot to offer,” Molly Boarati, assistant curator at the Nasher, wrote in an email. 

The Duke Arts District spans across Campus Drive from the Duke Gardens to the Center for Documentary Studies. While the District offers many opportunities for students to get involved artistically, these endeavors are somewhat disparate from one another. The outdoor space connecting the Nasher and the Ruby hopes to create a greater feeling of cohesion in the Arts District.

“This green arts space will bring art outdoors, and will also offer a unique venue for performances,” Arts Communications Specialist Katy Clune said.

The outdoor space will officially open September 28, featuring performance art by Israeli-born artist Naama Tsabar and local musicians. The Duke Dance Program will also host an after-party following the performance. 

“When the Rubenstein Arts Center opened in early February 2018, and then the faculty house between the Nasher and the Ruby was torn down in August last year, the opportunity arose to create a new green space and expand the conversation surrounding what the Duke Arts District could be like in the future,” Boarati said. 

Connecting the Nasher and the Ruby will not only create a visually cohesive arts space, but it will help mark a cultural shift in the Duke community towards a greater appreciation of the arts. Rather than merely providing a space for arts-inclined students to practice their craft, an Arts District that is more integrated into the fabric of the Duke student’s routine could encourage more holistic learning and diverse community-building.

“Making art a part of everyday life in this way will not only offer a bit of beauty and reprieve, but I think it will also draw people in to discover what Duke offers in its many galleries,” Clune wrote in an email.