Kimerly Rorschach, the only director that the Nasher Museum of Art has ever had, is leaving. Rorschach will depart the Duke University museum this fall to head up the Seattle Art Museum, starting Nov. 1.
“It’s a tremendous loss for Duke,” said Sarah Schroth, a senior curator at Nasher. “She’s a model director and we’ll miss her very much. She turned a small museum into one with an international reputation, and not only among university art museums.”
Rorschach herself was in Seattle on Monday and unavailable for comment beyond a statement saying she’s “extremely proud to have been part of the Nasher Museum’s exciting beginnings.”
She came to Duke after a 10-year stint at the University of Chicago’s David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, where she was director. Rorschach arrived in 2004 when the Nasher was still under construction, bankrolled in part by $10 million from Dallas real-estate developer and sculptor Raymond Nasher (a 1943 Duke alumnus).
The 65,000-square-foot Nasher opened in 2005 and earned major acclaim under Rorschach’s leadership, with a 13,000-work permanent collection including works by Picasso, Rodin, Matisse and Warhol. It draws around 100,000 visitors a year.
Major Nasher exhibits include this year’s “Alexander Calder and Contemporary Art: Form, Balance, Joy,” a collection of mobile art; and 2010’s multi-media “The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl.” Another show, 2008’s “El Grego to Velazquez: Art During the Reign of Philip III,” drew 75,000 visitors and kudos from the Wall Street Journal, which named it one of that year’s top-10 exhibits.
Another major exhibition coming to the Nasher is November’s “Collecting Matisse and Modern Masters: The Cone Sisters of Baltimore,” featuring works on loan from the Baltimore Museum of Art.