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Napa vintner donates $10 million to launch new museum of art

Maria Manetti Shrem, Jan Shrem, Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi and Dean Jessie Ann Owens

(Robert Durrell photo)

by Mark Hoyer

Thanks to a $10 million gift from Jan Shrem, proprietor of Clos Pegase winery in Napa Valley, UC Davis will be home to a new art museum that will serve as a teaching and cultural resource. The Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art is named to honor both Jan Shrem and his wife, Maria Manetti Shrem. The new museum will join the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, the Walter A. Buehler Alumni and Visitors Center, the UC Davis Conference Center and Maurice J. Gallagher Jr. Hall, home of the Graduate School of Management, in facing the Larry N. Vanderhoef Quad at UC Davis’ south entrance.

The gift is one of the largest ever for the arts at UC Davis, and the largest received to date by the College of Letters and Science.

“After our dear friend, Margrit Mondavi, introduced the idea of the new museum,” said Jan Shrem, “we decided it would be an honor to join her in supporting this extraordinary university and in sharing its vision for the future.”

Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi noted the university’s long tradition of excellence in the arts, adding, “The museum will serve as a source of rich learning opportunities for our students, and provide inspiration to generations of artists. We are very grateful for this extraordinary commitment and for Jan and Maria’s vision and partnership in the creation of a museum of art at UC Davis.”

three works of art

From the UC Davis Fine Arts Collection (left to right): Ando Hiroshige, untitled, 19th century, wood block print; Roland Petersen, Picnic Scene with One Parasol, 1967, oil on canvas; and Henri Matisse, Feminine Head, circa 1950s, lithograph on paper.

When completed, it is envisioned that the museum would hold space for galleries, seminars, research and public gatherings. It will also house the university’s fine arts collection, which contains more than 5,000 works of art, including ones by nationally recognized former art department faculty such as Wayne Thiebaud, Robert Arneson, Roy De Forest and William T. Wiley.

Jessie Ann Owens, dean of the Division of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies, said that the museumcould foster new academic programs such as museum studies, curatorial and preservation studies, and also house a scholarly archive of artists’ papers and materials.

Owens added, “Jan and Maria have demonstrated a love for the arts throughout their lives. They understand what a university art museum can do and will do at UC Davis, to be a living educational resource, and a place for the public to enjoy.”

Wayne Thiebaud, painter and professor emeritus of art at UC Davis, emphasized the value of the museum for students: “A university museum will allow students to experience works of art firsthand in a way that is not possible with reproductions. It is this kind of experience that is essential to the university’s teaching mission. As a teacher, I am delighted to know that this gift will make the museum a reality.”

In addition to benefiting UC Davis students, Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem said they hope the museum will become a resource for the art community at large.

“We believe the new museum will become the heart of the campus, a place where people will be moved by the beauty and strength of the arts,” said Maria Manetti Shrem.

Added Jan Shrem, “We believe that education and the arts should be accessible to all people. And we believe that a curious and open mind should be nurtured and supported.”

The capital budget for the building is $30 million; to outfit the building and create the program will require an additional investment of up to $5 million. In addition to these startup costs, the university will raise an endowment of $5 million to $20 million to support the museum’s ongoing program beyond the opening. Annual proceeds from the endowment will allow the museum’s program to expand as the endowment grows. No student tuition, student fees or state funds will be used.

This article has been updated from the originally published article in UC Davis Magazine.