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Napa vintner donates $10 million for new museum of art at UC Davis

December 16, 2011

The University of California, Davis, has received a $10 million gift to name a new art museum that will serve as a teaching and cultural resource for the region and provide opportunities to share the university’s artistic legacy, enhance its fine arts collection, and create new partnerships and collaborations.

Slated for completion in 2015, the museum will be named for donor Jan Shrem, proprietor of Clos Pegase winery in Napa Valley, and his friend and arts patron Maria Manetti Farrow.

The Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Farrow Museum of Art will provide approximately 40,000 square feet of contemporary space for galleries, seminars, research and public gatherings. It will also house the university’s fine arts collection, which contains more than 4,000 works of art including works by former art department faculty such as Wayne Thiebaud, Robert Arneson, Roy De Forest and William T. Wiley.

The museum, part of a long-range master plan for the university’s new south entrance, will be constructed on a 1.6 acre site adjacent to the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, the UC Davis Conference Center and Maurice J. Gallagher Jr. Hall, home of the university’s Graduate School of Management.

“The museum will build upon the university’s long tradition of excellence in the arts, serve as a source of rich learning opportunities for our students, and provide inspiration to generations of artists,” said Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi. “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.”

Shrem has always held a deep passion for making great art widely accessible, which is reflected in his famous Clos Pegase winery. The signature building, designed by renowned architect Michael Graves, features a collection of nearly 1,000 works by Henry Moore, Richard Serra, Mark Di Suvero and others.

Born in Colombia of Jewish-Lebanese heritage, Shrem grew up in Jerusalem and moved to the U.S. as a teenager. After studying at UCLA, he built a successful publishing business in Japan, studied enology at the University of Bordeaux and later created the 450-acre wine estate, Clos Pegase. Shrem is now a member of the Director’s Circle for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and serves on the board of the Family Winemakers of California.

“After our dear friend, Margrit Mondavi, introduced the idea of the new museum, we decided it would be an honor to join her in supporting this extraordinary university and in sharing its vision for the future,” Shrem said. “Our philosophy of giving rests on simple concepts: 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. Fortunately, the project at UC Davis has introduced us to people who profoundly share this philosophy. It is with deepest pleasure that we are able to help bring this new museum to life.”

An international businesswoman, Manetti Farrow was born in Italy and moved to the U.S. in 1973, making her home in Northern California. In the 1980s, Manetti Farrow revolutionized the high-end accessory market by creating and managing U.S. and Canadian distribution for premium leather goods by designers such as Gucci, Fendi and Mark Cross.

Manetti Farrow is a grower and collector of fine wines and produces premium balsamic vinegar and award-winning olive oils served at some of the finest restaurants in the country. She is involved in numerous philanthropic, civic and performing arts organizations in San Francisco, New York, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Florence, London, Paris and St. Petersburg.

“Both Jan and I came to this country as young people, more or less the same age as the students at UC Davis,” Manetti Farrow said. “And we both remember what it was like to begin life all over again in a new world where education was our salvation and the arts were our greatest joy. Everything that is being planned for the new museum of art suggests it will become an integral part of the university, the curriculum and the community. We also believe it will become the heart of the campus, a place where people can come to study, to learn, to look and to be moved by the beauty and strength of the arts.”

Mondavi has been a champion of the art museum project at UC Davis. “The excellent teaching artists of the past, the prominent faculty at UC Davis today, and the impressive collection of renowned California artists deserve a great home for art, which is an ongoing love affair of my life,” Mondavi said. “I’m thrilled that my friends Jan and Maria are joining me in fulfilling the dream of a new art museum for this great university.”

According to Jessie Ann Owens, dean of UC Davis’ Division of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies, the museum could fuel new academic programs for students such as museum studies, curatorial and preservation studies, and also house a scholarly archive of artists’ papers and materials that would be invaluable in the study of art and artists.

Dean Owens added, “Both 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 first-hand in a way that is not possible with reproductions,” he said. “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.”

The contribution allows the university to begin the design phase of the $30 million construction project and spurs fundraising efforts for the museum. Half of the total construction costs, $15 million, will be funded by private philanthropic gifts. Including the Shrem gift, $12.1 million has been raised to date. The university will use tax-exempt bond financing for the remaining $15 million, which will be paid from campus funds such as short-term interest earnings. The university will not use student tuition, student fees or state funds for construction of the museum. UC Davis plans a campaign to raise between $5 million and $20 million in additional private gifts for the museum, including an endowment to support museum programs.

Shrem’s gift will be counted as part of The Campaign for UC Davis, a universitywide initiative launched in 2006 to inspire 100,000 donors to contribute $1 billion in support of the university’s mission and vision. To date, $749 million has been raised from 85,000 donors. The gift is one of the largest ever received for the arts at UC Davis, and is the largest gift received to date by the College of Letters and Science. It is the fourth largest cumulative gift from an individual donor to The Campaign for UC Davis, and the sixth largest gift from any donor to the campaign.

About UC Davis

UC Davis is a global community of individuals united to better humanity and our natural world while seeking solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. Located near the California state capital, UC Davis has more than 34,000 students, and the full-time equivalent of 4,100 faculty and other academics and 17,400 staff. The campus has an annual research budget of over $750 million, a comprehensive health system and about two dozen specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and 99 undergraduate majors in four colleges and six professional schools.

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