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Nasher Museum of Art to provide free admission to public ‘for the foreseeable future,’ thanks to alumni donation

Admission to the Nasher Museum of Art will continue to be free for all, thanks to a $1 million gift from Duke alumni Jennifer McCracken New and husband Jason New.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, tickets to the Nasher were $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and $4 for non-Duke students. As campus shut down, so did the Nasher. But when they reopened to the public last September, they waived admission

Now, free admission will continue “for the foreseeable future,” according to Wendy Hower, the museum’s director of engagement and marketing. 

McCracken New, Trinity ‘90 and Law School ‘94, and New, Law School ‘94, are art collectors with strong ties to Duke. The couple has donated eight works of art to the Nasher, made a promised gift of one work and provided funds for the purchase of 14 other works. McCracken New also serves on the museum’s national board of advisors.

Having attended the University, they recognized the value of art in sharing culture and building community. 

“I'm delighted to be part of this effort to make the museum more accessible, inviting and open to all,” wrote McCracken New in a statement posted to the museum’s website. “The Nasher has so much to offer Duke and the surrounding community. When we are able to welcome diverse, engaged visitors, the experience is more robust for all of us.”

Hower noted that in the two weeks since the News’ donation, she saw more attendees flocking into the museum, though summer is traditionally a slow season. For instance, she said over 300 community members attended a recent tap dance performance. 

The Nasher’s membership patronage used to provide for admission, among other exclusive benefits such as special events and store discounts. Now, Hower explained, members’ money can extend much further. 

“They're paying for exhibitions and collections and programs and publications and outreach to the community,” she said. “And their money goes directly to the museum.”

Nasher employee Claire Dubnansky, a graduate of Durham School of the Arts who has been involved with the Nasher since 2015, expressed excitement that the museum will be more accessible to the public. 

“Our North Carolina artists show has a lot of artists that are local to the area and local to North Carolina. And so if people had to pay to come and see it, then I just think that would be odd. I mean, why are they coming to see their neighbors’ art?” Dubnansky said, referencing the “Reckoning and Resilience: North Carolina Now” exhibit currently on display at the Nasher.

“It's a community thing. It should be a place of education and inspiration and creativity, and to put a price on that is hard,” Dubnansky said. “So I'm glad we're free because people can just come and see it with their community members anytime.” 

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly spelled Claire Dubnansky as Dumansky. The Chronicle regrets the error. 


Sevana Wenn | Features Managing Editor

Sevana Wenn is a Trinity sophomore and features managing editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.

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