Seattle Art Museum has named Kimerly Rorschach as its new director following a three-year international search by the board of directors. Rorschach replaces former director Mimi Gates, who stepped down from her position in 2009 after 15 years of leadership and who has since held the role of director emerita. Director of the Nasher Museum at Duke University for eight years, Rorschach will assume her new Seattle position in the fall.
“We feel fortunate to be bringing a new arts leader of such caliber to Seattle,” said Charles Wright, SAM board chair, in a recent press release. “Kim’s engagement with national and global arts issues, along with her combined experience in scholarship, business management and community engagement will benefit SAM and the wider community immeasurably and strengthen the city’s national reputation as a leader in the arts.”
As the Nasher’s founding director Rorschach saw the museum develop from its previous incarnation as the Duke University Museum of Art, completing its $23 million building program and initiating a contemporary art acquisitions program. She also oversaw a series of national and international exhibitions at the museum. The president of the National Association of Museum Directors, Rorschach holds a Ph.D and Masters in art history from Yale University. She will be moving to Seattle with her husband, Duke University professor John Hart. They have two grown daughters.
“I am delighted and deeply honored to be named director of Seattle Art Museum,” said Rorschach. “As a regular visitor to the Pacific Northwest I have followed the museum’s growth and development for many years and have long admired its wonderful program, exciting collections and handsome physical presence in the city.”
“Kim is a terrific choice for SAM,” said Tacoma Art Museum director Stephanie Stebich. “She’s super-smart, very personable and extremely hard working. I know she’ll be a
terrific colleague and a great addition to the strong network of women art museum directors in the Pacific Northwest.”
Other female museum directors in the region include Susan Warner at the Museum of Glass, Sylvia Wolf at the Henry Art Gallery, Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker at the Frye Art Museum, Beth Takekawa at the Wing Luke Asian Museum, Patricia Leach at the Whatcom Museum, Sarah Clark-Langager at Western Washington University Gallery and Kathleen Bartels at the Vancouver Art Gallery.