Greetings! I am pleased to present our 2016 online Annual Report.
Last year brought us Nasher10, a celebration of the museum’s first decade and beyond. It was an exciting year to recognize the building of our collections, exhibitions, educational innovations and community. We presented some of the most impactful art of our time. Educational and public art initiatives strengthened our ties to Duke and the community in new ways. Our new rallying cry: ‘This is Your Museum,’ represents the pride we can all take in the depth of our collection!
I was so pleased with the entire staff’s efforts to create The New Galleries: A Collection Come to Light, a comprehensive, dynamic and beautiful reinstallation of the museum’s collection. Eight galleries are dedicated to specific collection strengths highlighting many of the museum’s masterworks while illustrating a history of human creativity. I am especially delighted with a new gallery dedicated to art from Mesoamerica, with its chocolate walls and wall case filled with stunning Mayan ceramics. At long last, we are presenting many of the museum’s best African masks, sculpture and beadwork, and rarely seen American, European and ancient works.
Just beyond the entrance to The Collection Galleries in Wilson pavilion, you’ll find the Incubator, a flexible space for rotating student- and faculty-curated exhibitions. The first four Incubator installations last year featured photographs by Ansel Adams; works by Kathryn Andrews, Sigmar Polke, Sherrie Levine and Sara VanDerBeek; photographs by photographs by Paul and Damon McCarthy; and photographs by Burk Uzzle.
Also in commemoration of the occasion of the 10th anniversary, the Nasher Museum commissioned two wall murals by Odili Donald Odita. One was our first public art project, in downtown Durham. The beautiful mural by this Nigerian-born artist on the Foster Street wall of the YMCA is entitled Time Bridge, inspired by the city of Durham. The mural visually connects to Odita’s second commission within the Nasher Museum, Shadow and Light (For Julian Francis Abele). That mural, at the entrance to the Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Family Lecture Hall, became part of Duke’s effort to recognize the contributions of Julian Abele, the African-American architect of the university’s original campus. I was thrilled when the office of the Executive Vice-President and a Trustee contributed to the museum’s purchase of the mural. The Odita murals were also used as the focus for our new program, Nasher Teens.
We presented some of our most significant works from the contemporary collection last year ̶ highlights from the 1,000 new works acquired since the museum opened in 2005. Reality of My Surroundings: The Contemporary Collection demonstrated the museum’s ongoing commitment to collecting contemporary work by global artists, with a focus on artists of African descent. As part of that exhibition, other local art museum directors joined me for a lively public panel discussion on Feb. 11, 2016, on collecting and presenting work by artists of African descent. A big crowd assembled to meet these art world luminaries: New York Times art critic Holland Cotter, Studio Museum in Harlem Director Thelma Golden, San Francisco art collector Pamela Joyner, New York gallery director Jack Shainman and Pérez Art Museum (Miami) Director Franklin Sirmans.
Another of last year’s exhibition highlights was Richard Mosse’s The Enclave, a hauntingly beautiful, six-channel video shot in eastern Congo, a region that has been plagued by civil war, political instability and humanitarian crises for decades.
Two of our beloved benefactors graciously allowed us to organize the first exhibition of their collection, A Material Legacy: The Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Collection of Contemporary Art. It explored two distinct legacies: one of contemporary artists’ innovative use of materials, the other of philanthropy and collecting. There had never been a show quite like this in our area, with such exquisite examples of a variety of artistic processes by so many ‘blue chip’ artists. The galleries were smashing. Nancy Nasher and David Haemisegger have been extremely bold in their choices.
So many have come forward to encourage our efforts and cheer us on. The annual benefit Gala in honor of Nancy Nasher and her husband, David, was our most successful to date. We are extremely grateful to you all.
Due to the generous assistance of Duke alumni, our members and visitors from Durham and around the world, the Nasher Museum is one of the area’s most exciting cultural institutions, a place that welcomes and inspires the people who live, work and study here. Thank you so much!
To show your SUPPORT for all that the Nasher has accomplished in one short decade, and help us plan for the next one, become a MEMBER or consider an end-of-the-year GIFT. It will be deeply appreciated.
Mary D.B.T. and James H. Semans Director
Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University