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Museum aims to radiate

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By Todd Cohen

DURHAM, N.C. — With the new $24 million facility it occupied just over a year ago serving as its hub, the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University aims to serve, connect and help develop a network of diverse and often-overlapping communities, including Duke students, faculty, alumni and donors, area residents and visitors, and the art world throughout the U.S. and abroad.

Founded in 1969 as the Duke University Museum of Art, the renamed museum raised $20 million for its new 65,000-square-foot building that opened in October 2005.

Now, shifting its focus to raising funds to support acquisitions and exhibitions, the museum has begun planning an effort to build a $10 million endowment, says Kimerly Rorschach, the museum’s director.

Heading that effort, which already has raised $3 million, is a 20-member national board of advisors that is in the early stage of developing an endowment strategy and quietly has begun raising endowment funds, Rorschach says.

The museum’s fundraising efforts are tied directly to its vision of serving at the center of a series of “concentric” communities, she says.

First and foremost, she says, the museum is a teaching institution that serves the needs of students, faculty and the larger Duke community, including alumni, donors and friends.

With a larger facility and plans for the endowment, Rorschach says, the Nasher can better serve students and faculty, acquire art, host traveling exhibitions and develop new exhibitions, often by tapping faculty expertise.

The museum also is working to serve Triangle residents and, as part of its plan to serve students throughout the region, initially has developed a partnership with the Durham public schools.

With its focus on contemporary art, Rorschach says, the Nasher complements the collections at other museums in the region such as the North Carolina Museum of Art.

It also serves as a destination for parents of Duke students and prospective students from outside the region, and for visitors and newcomers to the Triangle, she says.

And it is working with other cultural institutions and economic-development groups to market the region, she says, and is teaming up with museums throughout the U.S. and abroad to share art and develop and host traveling exhibitions.

The museum is planning a major retrospective of the work of African-American artist Barkley Hendricks for spring 2008 that will travel to four or five cities, including the Studio Museum in Harlem in New York City.

And in collaboration with the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Nasher is organizing an exhibition of 17th-century Spanish paintings that will include loans from the Prado in Madrid, the Louvre in Paris, the National Gallery in London and major U.S. museums.

The exhibition, scheduled for August through November 2008, has landed a major corporate sponsor and will be the focus of a marketing effort involving the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce and the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The museum also is talking to groups such as the North Carolina Symphony and Carolina Ballet in Raleigh and Memorial Hall at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill about staging events tied to the exhibition.

“There’s a whole network of relationships that we are a part of and our donors are a part of, and that we need to be successful,” says

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