As a graduate of the law school, and a former member of the Board of Trustees, the affinity I feel for this university is immeasurable. I am so pleased for us to celebrate the many accomplishments of the museum over the past ten years and look to the future.
It means a great deal to me that my family has helped to establish the success of this museum. As an undergraduate student at Duke in the early 1940’s, my father, Raymond D. Nasher, wrote for the Duke Chronicle. One of his columns was titled “Time to Think.” He advocated for the university community to put more emphasis on the arts and cultural interests and stressed that creating a great art museum was of the utmost importance. We both had great ambitions for Duke to have one of the best university art museums in the country and one that would also be a significant cultural force in the region with an impact on all areas of the arts. It was therefore very meaningful to both of us when we were able to make that vision a reality with the opening of this wonderful museum in 2005. We were very fortunate to have been aided in the creative process by the world renowned architect Rafael Viñoly. As we all stood in the Great Hall during the Nasher10 celebratory event on October 4, 2015, I think we agreed that Rafael’s geometric light-filled design is timeless and does not reflect the fact that this structure in now ten years old.
I believe strongly, as did both my parents, that accessibility to art is essential to a well-rounded education. Seeing great art and studying the creative process of artists can open up young minds to new ways of thinking that will enhance all aspects of their lives and their experiences while at Duke and after.
However, the impact of this museum has extended far beyond the Duke campus and that can mainly be attributed to the quality of the exhibitions that the museum has been able to organize under the curatorial leadership of our esteemed Director Sarah Schroth. These exhibitions have had regional, national and international impact. Our exhibitions have been creative, daring and in some cases have had a profound impact on the career or legacy of the artist. Some of our more noteworthy exhibitions, just to name a few, have included the Vorticists, Rauschenberg, Mutu, Barkley Hendricks, Street Level and The Record. I believe all of us also remember Sarah Schroth’s fantastic El Greco to Velázquez exhibition that was named one of the best national exhibitions of 2008. Finally, one of our most recent exhibitions created by Duke’s great scholar Rick Powell, called Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist, opened up to rave reviews and record crowds this past fall at the completely redesigned Whitney Museum in New York City and is the first retrospective to be shown in this incredible new museum. What a great achievement! All of these exhibitions are amazing accomplishments for a university museum and for a museum of our size and age.
However, accomplishments such as these do not happen without the support of a great many individuals, groups and constituencies. The success of this museum has truly been collaborative on every level. Duke University, under the leadership of President Richard H. Brodhead, has been an amazing partner in all areas even before the museum ever opened. We are now so fortunate to have a fantastic director and curator in Sarah Schroth and a very accomplished and highly artistic curatorial staff lead by our chief curator Trevor Schoonmaker, along with Marshal Price and Molly Boarati. We have a very engaged Board of Visitors who are committed to the vision of the institution and who have given very generously of their artwork, their financial resources and most importantly their time. In addition, we have been the beneficiaries of the support of many friends, alumni, students, faculty and the wonderful community of Durham. Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention the incredible staff of the Nasher. They are responsible for the quality of the overall experience of our patrons on a daily basis. We all appreciate their hard work, their enthusiasm, commitment, pride and love of this institution.
I distinctly remember the long journey of the evolution, creation and building of this museum in this location ten years ago. At the opening, I recall standing in the Nasher Museum with my father, my sisters, my husband David, and our children, Sarah, Isabelle and David, and being amazed that all of the hopes and dreams had become a reality. Now I am amazed and so proud of all the accomplishments that this institution has achieved in what appears to me to be a very short ten years. I know the future of the museum is very bright. I know it continues to have ambitious goals and aspirations. And I look forward to seeing what the next ten years will bring. Thank you all for helping us celebrate together this important anniversary milestone.
Nancy A. Nasher
Chair, Nasher Museum Board of Advisor