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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Interview with SAM's New Director: Hear Kimerly Rorschach for Yourself

Posted by on Tue, Jan 22, 2013 at 12:23 PM

Kimerly Rorschach loves this Thomas Gainsborough painting, which is coming to SAM next month. And this other portrait, at left (photo by Robert Wade), is Kimerly Rorschach posing with a painting from the Ancestral Modern show of Australian aboriginal art at SAM last year. You can hear her talk about why she loves the Gainsborough, and what went into composing her portrait, by clicking the audio link below.
  • Kimerly Rorschach loves this Thomas Gainsborough painting, which is coming to SAM next month. And this other portrait, at left (photo by Robert Wade), is Kimerly Rorschach posing with a painting from the Ancestral Modern show of Australian aboriginal art at SAM last year. You can hear her talk about why she loves the Gainsborough, and what went into composing her portrait, by clicking the audio link below.

When Kimerly Rorschach (no, there's no "b") took the job as the new director of Seattle Art Museum in July, leading museum directors around the country lined up to swoon over her. Seriously. In 15 years doing this job, I've never seen anything like it. I wrote down what they said, starting with:

“She’s really the top of the class,” Guggenheim director Richard Armstrong said in a phone interview. “Your city should be in a position to leap forward. She’s elegantly empathetic, she’s poetic and direct, she’s curious and engaging, she’s courageous in the right way—all the attributes you want in someone who’s associated with creativity…What’s important is that she makes right decisions, she’s a creative person, and she really puts the artists and art in the center of her universe, which is quite what you want in a leadership situation.”

So when I got my first chance to sit down with her, I turned on the recorder, let it run for an hour, and decided to give you not a filtered, written version but the whole shebang. Here's the interview, conducted in her office at SAM on January 10:


(Right click here to download the interview.)

If you don't have an hour to spare right now, there are a few highlights. In July, she said she wanted to figure out "where can we get up on the scoreboard and where does it not make sense to go.” How does SAM plan to get up on the scoreboard, or up its national and international reputation? Look for greater depth and interest in contemporary Asian art, she told me. What is she reading? Michael Chabon, Telegraph Avenue. What does she collect for her own home? Drawings by artists you've never heard of.

Kimerly Rorschach, meet Seattle. Seattle, meet Kimerly Rorschach.

 

Comments (5) RSS

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bleedingheartlibertarian 1
The Nasher is a really great museum. I'm sure she will do wonderful things with SAM.
Posted by bleedingheartlibertarian on January 22, 2013 at 12:36 PM · Report this
2
I want to add one thing, because during our interview, I forgot to ask Kimerly for her perspective on admission prices at SAM. The costs of special exhibitions have risen: "Elles" was $23. But the $15 regular admission is also suggestion-only. The Dallas Museum of Art has been in the news recently for its decision to go all-free. What are her plans for SAM's admissions policies and prices? She responded to the question with this email:

"SAM depends on a mix of revenues and contributed support to keep its doors open and present great exhibitions and programs in our community. Admission revenues are a significant aspect of this, and thus it would be very difficult for us to contemplate offering free admission to all at SAM downtown. One of my long-term goals is to offer more free days/evenings to make sure that SAM is accessible to all who want to visit, regardless of their ability to pay admission. It’s also important to remember that our admission charge is suggested, not mandatory, so that people can pay less if they need to. And of course admission to our glorious Olympic Sculpture Park is always free to all!"
Posted by Jen Graves on January 22, 2013 at 4:45 PM · Report this
3
Another thing that might consider is one free day during the week. The Albright-Knox use to do that (not sure if they still do). Back when I lived in Upstate NY and was a poor grad student, it was a wonderful thing.
Posted by Senor Guy on January 23, 2013 at 1:22 PM · Report this
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