Lowe Art Museum curator driven by passion, dedication to art, UM

“The Football Player,” a realistic sculpture of an athlete sitting on his helmet, and “Modular Painting in Four Panels V,” by Roy Lichtenstien, one of the leaders of the pop art movement, would catch any inattentive eye at the Lowe Art Museum.

Pieces like these have made the collection at the Lowe one of the best in the southeast, numbering more thsn 16,000 pieces, according to its Web site.

This collection is also the greatest success of Brian Dursum, the present director and curator of the Lowe Art Museum.

“From my point of view, his biggest achievement in the long run has been the collection,” said Denise Gerson, associate director at the Lowe. “He’s been instrumental in expanding the collection, organizing the collection and hiring people who have brought the collection into a 21st century light.”

Over the past 35 years, Dursum has been the most integral figure to the curation of the museum’s wide array of exhibitions and collections.

Dursum’s passion for the arts is of no surprise, it’s a product of his multicultural background.

Dursum was born in Portugal and later moved to Brazil and then England. With his travels, his appreciation for the arts increased exponentially, eventually leading to his concentration in Asian art.

“He lived for several years in Taiwan, and that’s his area of curatorial expertise here in the museum,” Gerson said. “We have a very significant Asian collection that Brian is responsible for.”

And that love and appreciation of culture and art at a young age was complemented by his knack for collecting.

“I started with rocks,” Dursum said. “If any rock looked somewhat interesting I would pick it up and I had this whole stack of rocks.”

The conjunction of collecting and cultural appreciation has culminated into a career for Dursum, who now collects art, instead of rocks.

Dursum, now 60, remains fully dedicated to the museum.

“He’s dedicated his blood, sweat and tears to this museum,” said Gita Shoneck, communications and marketing assistant at the Lowe. “He’s definitely left his mark on the museum and on the university community as a whole.”

“I’m most proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish at the museum,” Dursum said. “And it’s not just me, because it’s always a team effort – our donors, our patrons, our staff.”

As for the future, the thing Dursum will be most proud of is the legacy he’ll leave behind.

“The main thing is that I would like to think that I made a difference, and that when I leave the museum will be a better place for the university, and for its students and faculty, and also for the community at large,” he said.