Kimerly Rorschach, director of Duke University’s Nasher Museum of Art since 2004, has been named the new director of Seattle Art Museum, effective this fall. Today’s announcement comes a little over a year after Derrick Cartwright stepped down from the position to “take a break” and pursue his own projects; in that time, the museum’s board did an international search for his replacement while simultaneously naming a new modern and contemporary art curator. Lots of big changes at SAM.
Rorschach comes to Seattle from Chapel Hill, NC, where she served as the founding director of $23 million-dollar, Rafael Vinoly-designed Nasher Museum, which replaced the old Duke University Museum of Art in 2005. Under her leadership it’s become one of the more interesting on-campus art museums in the country, host to high-profile traveling exhibits such as El Greco to Velázquez: Art during the Reign of Philip III and The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl (currently on display at Henry Art Gallery) —with works by Talking Heads front man David Byrne, Laurie Anderson, and Christian Marclay—in addition to a modern art collection ranging from Andy Warhol to Ai Weiwei.
A Fulbright scholar with a Ph.D. from Yale in art history, Rorschach is also an adjunct professor in Duke’s department of art, art history, and visual studies, where she teaches a "Museum Theory and Practice" undergraduate course. "Her interests include 17th- and 18th-century art, particularly in England; museum history and theory; patronage and collecting; the art market; art law; and legal, economic, and political issues in museums and the history of art," according to her faculty bio. Before joining the Duke team, Rorschach served as director of the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago for 10 years. She’s currently the president of the Association of Art Museum Directors.
According to a SAM release, Rorschach will move to Seattle with her husband John F. Hart, a scholar in American Constitutional law and history who currently teaches at Duke University. Rorschach and Hart have two grown daughters.