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.