Kimberly Rorschach, The Nasher, and NC's Cultural Scene

Kimberly Rorschach, The Nasher, and NC's Cultural Scene

To mark the North Carolina Humanities Council's 40th anniversary, every month in 2012 we'll ask our friends to respond, within the context of the humanities, to these three words: THINK. SEE. FEEL. So far, their responses are as individual as they are.

Kimerly Rorschach

Kimerly Rorschach has been the Mary D.B.T. and James H. Semans Director of the Nasher Museum since 2004. Under her direction, the Nasher Museum opened to the public in 2005 and has quickly built a robust program focusing on modern and contemporary art and service to the university and broader community.  She was elected president of the Association of Art Museum Directors for the 2012-13 year.  AAMD represents over 200 leading art museums in the US, Canada, and Mexico.

On campus, Rorschach has established the Nasher Museum as the cornerstone for the visual arts. She is chair of Duke’s Council on the Arts, working to promote the arts as one of five priorities in the university’s strategic plan. She also chairs President Richard H. Brodhead's Art Advisory Committee overseeing public sculpture on campus. She is an adjunct professor in Duke’s Department of Art, Art History & Visual Studies and teaches the course "Museum Theory and Practice."

Before coming to Duke, Rorschach was the Dana Feitler Director of the University of Chicago's David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art for 10 years. She previously held curatorial positions at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia.

Rorschach was a Fulbright Scholar and holds a Ph.D. in art history from Yale University. 

THINK. SEE. FEEL. with Kimerly Rorschach

THINK: I am constantly thinking about how to engage new audiences with modern and contemporary art. This is on my mind as I visit the Nasher Museum’s own exhibitions, or other art museums and galleries. It’s important to spend time with a work of art, and not worry too much about the descriptive label on the wall. The artist is trying to communicate something. If the artist is not successful in communicating with me, I simply move on to the next work of art. I don’t feel pressure to like a work, but I love thinking about, and making, my own personal connections with art.

SEE: My travel schedule, while sometimes grueling, has a positive aspect: I see wonderful art all over the world. I like to pretend I am an anonymous visitor, taking in each exhibition with fresh eyes. I notice signage, the friendliness of staff, sight lines and lighting in galleries, tricks for installing works of art—even bathroom fixtures! Whatever good ideas and solutions I find, I bring back with me to the Nasher Museum.

FEEL: Whenever I feel bogged down with minutiae, I head down to the Nasher Museum’s galleries for a good dose of art. I love watching visitors engage with the work. I probably feel most inspired by watching children on a tour, discovering the works, getting excited, asking bright questions. But I also love spotting students snapping photos of art with their phones. Restored, I head back up to my desk. 

The Nasher and NC's Cultural Scene

When I think of North Carolina, I think of three things: creativity, diversity and innovation. I know all of those will develop in exciting ways into the future, and the Nasher Museum means to be a part of it. We are Durham’s art museum and also a part of Duke University. We create leading-edge exhibitions of contemporary art, and we contribute to a developing vibrant cultural scene here in our state.