Blue Star Museums Blog (Archive)

Five Questions with the Nasher Sculpture Center

Dallas, Texas

Visitors explore Work No. 1190 Half the air in a given space (2011) by Martin Creed. Photo by Kevin Todora, courtesy Nasher Sculpture Center

When Raymond and Patsy Nasher first began collecting art in 1950, they likely didn't imagine that their purchases would one day grow into an internationally renowned collection. As the couple accumulated more and more pieces, the works outgrew their home, and were put on display at the Nashers' commercial real estate properties, as well as at museums around the world. The Nasher Sculpture Center was opened in 2003 to showcase the collection's 300 sculptures and 20th century paintings and drawings. As visitors explore the beautiful outdoor gardens and airy, light-filled interiors, they will encounter works from artists such as Joan Miró, Alexander Calder, Richard Serra, Pablo Picasso, Jeff Koons, and Alberto Giacometti. We spoke with the Nasher Sculpture Center's Associate Director of Communications, Kristen Gibbins, who told us about upcoming events at the Center, the importance of sculpture as a medium, and her own favorite pieces in the collection.

NEA: In your opinion, what makes the Nasher Sculpture Center unique?

KRISTEN GIBBINS: The Nasher Sculpture Center is a gem of a museum that features one of the finest private collections of modern and contemporary sculpture that you can see anywhere in the world. Here, visitors are able to view works by some of the most famous modern and contemporary artists in history, including Matisse, Picasso, Rodin, Giacometti, Calder, and many others.

The architecture of the museum is also a work of art in itself, and was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect, Renzo Piano. The Nasher Sculpture Center's unique vaulted glass ceiling and sunscreen allows soft light to filter in, and the result is a very airy, open gallery space in which to view the sculpture. The light-filled galleries look out over a beautifully landscaped sculpture garden designed by Peter Walker that visitors are also welcome to meander through and enjoy.

A view of the Nasher Sculpture Center. Photo by Tim Hursley, courtesy of Nasher Sculpture Center

NEA: What are your favorite pieces in the collection and why?

GIBBINS: Raymond Nasher, our founder, always said that the works in the collection were like his grandchildren, and that he couldn't choose a favorite. I have to admit that I have a few favorites, including Brancusi's The Kiss, which used to sit in the middle of Ray and Patsy's dining room table at their Dallas home. I imagine the dinner parties they hosted with dignitaries, artists, and world leaders, in which they engaged in important conversations and toasted their glasses with this amazing artwork looking over them. I am also partial to Joan Miró's Moonbird, a massive, fictional, playful creature of sorts that children tend to respond to, and I guess I'm a young soul at heart.

NEA: How do you view sculpture's role within the art world? Why is it important for the community at large?

GIBBINS: Raymond and Patsy Nasher enjoyed collecting sculpture in part because unlike paintings, which you can only view from one angle, sculpture offers 360 degrees of viewing. Your perspective and experience changes as you walk around the pieces and view the different sides. They also believed that art is an essential part of life and should be experienced by everyone. That is what led them to show works from their incredible collection in their businesses, like NorthPark Shopping Center, and what prompted them to build the Nasher Sculpture Center.

Regarding its importance in the art world, sculpture has been the essential medium for art of the past 50 years, even more so than painting, given the proliferation of artists making sculpture and the great advancements they’ve achieved in the medium.

'til Midnight, the Sculpture Center's evening program. Photo courtesy of Nasher Sculpture Center

NEA: Can you please describe the exhibits and events that visitors might find this summer?

GIBBINS: There is something for everyone this summer at the Nasher Sculpture Center. We have several exhibitions on view, including Statuesque, our first exhibition presented entirely outdoors, and Sightings: Martin Creed, which has become an online/social media phenomenon of sorts. A portion of the exhibition features a gallery filled with 9,000 gold balloons, which beckon visitors to walk through and become engulfed in the experience. We also have on view Bodies Reconsidered: 150 Years of Figurative Sculpture in the Nasher Collection, which features works from the permanent collection and provides historical context for the works in Statuesque. From an events perspective, there are monthly artist talks in our 360 lecture series, as well as our family-friendly monthly event Target First Saturdays. There is also 'til Midnight at the Nasher, which allows the museum to come to life in the evening hours through late-night viewings of the artwork, picnics by Wolfgang Puck Catering, as well as concerts and movies in the garden.

NEA: Are there any pieces or programs that children particularly enjoy?

GIBBINS: Target First Saturdays is our popular family-friendly program, which is free and open to the public on the first Saturday of every month from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event features a theme of the month, which we call a "Big Idea," and that is accompanied by an art activity, performance, reading time, and a sculpture scavenger hunt.

Nasher Sculpture Center
2001 Flora Street
Dallas, Texas 75201

Please visit the Blue Star Museums website for more information about the program and to find participating museums.

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