Manetti Shrem Museum of Art Holds Grand Opening Sunday

Party and street fair begin at 10 a.m.; ribbon cutting and doors open at noon; admission is free

For the Media

Click here for high-resolution photos of the exterior and interior of the museum. Other photo links are listed at the bottom of this news release.

The Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art at the University of California, Davis, will open its doors to the public for the first time Sunday, Nov. 13, with a community street fair and party starting at 10 a.m. and grand opening at noon.

Thanks to the generosity of donors and partners, the museum will be free for all.

“We are thrilled to add this remarkable new facility to our campus,” said Interim UC Davis Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter. “Students, faculty, staff and the public all will be able to enjoy our rich art legacy and history at UC Davis in a gorgeous and inviting building at the gateway to our campus. Our new museum stresses education first and foremost, with classrooms, a working studio for students and other resources near the entrance where all can see and enjoy for generations to come. This is another proud moment for our campus and we are grateful to Jan and Maria for their generosity and commitment to the arts.”

Visitors approaching by car from Interstate 80, by foot or on bicycle will be greeted immediately by the museum’s Bill and Nancy Roe Grand Canopy, a design created by the associated architectural firms of SO–IL and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. The design is specific to UC Davis, engaging both its historical legacy as well as its deep connection to the land. Like the tree canopy that covers the campus, the Roe Grand Canopy modulates a dynamic flow of light, constantly changing throughout the day and season, and unites a portfolio of indoor and outdoor rooms into one immersive experience. The design already has been lauded by architecture critics around the country.

“Our architecture is open and permeable so that we can reach out to open minds with open arms. We want people to experience art in every way possible — seeing it, and in some cases touching and interacting with it,” said Rachel Teagle, founding director of the Manetti Shrem Museum.

In conceiving and designing the canopy, the museum’s design signature, principal architects Florian Idenburg (SO–IL) and Karl Backus (BCJ), said: “As rows of furrows turned upside down, the canopy’s infill is a patchwork of triangular beams that will filter the light and temper the hot sun of the Central Valley.” The architecture firms were selected, along with contractor Whiting-Turner, after a design competition in 2013.  

A street fair and no ordinary ribbon cutting

To celebrate the grand opening, Alumni Lane, located on the east side of the museum, will be closed for a street fair from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Performance art, food trucks and entertainment will be provided by campus and community partners. The events and entertainment as well as the ribbon-cutting ceremony have been designed and organized by the museum in conjunction with its program partner, Verge Center for the Arts in Sacramento.

Opportunities for viewing and involvement include:

  • The Pedal Theory — A bicycle-powered color-wheel kinetic sculpture created by Sacramento City College students
  • “(P)arty” hat decorating — Visitors will be invited to decorate their own birthday party hats in celebration of the birthdays of first-generation art faculty Wayne Thiebaud and Roland Petersen
  • Spoken-word performances delivered by UC Davis students
  • The Pink Pix Booth celebrating the color pink by Gioia Fonda and Eric Wood
  • Participatory screen printing with Interval Press
  • Music by KDVS 90.3 FM Mobile DJ unit

An interlocking, 1,500-foot-long “ribbon” of foam links — woven through the canopy and wrapped around the entrance — will be untied, rather than cut, by faculty, staff, alumni, donors, students and artists at noon. Lisa Rybovich Crallé, who earned her master’s degree in fine arts in studio art from UC Davis in 2011, designed the giant ribbon, and members of the public decorated its links at community events in Davis, Sacramento and Napa. 

Inside the museum — education out front

With the ribbon cut, visitors will enter a glass lobby leading to a central courtyard, which opens to the sky, and to three distinct pavilions designed to accommodate exhibitions, art-making, and classrooms and operations. Within the exhibitions pavilion are five galleries.  

Education is of foremost importance to the Manetti Shrem Museum. Building on the spirit of innovative art education at the heart of UC Davis’ legacy, a third of the space is dedicated to educational programming. In addition to an indoor/outdoor art studio, the museum features a 125-seat lecture hall/community education room and a collections classroom. Additionally, concrete walls double as viewing surfaces for projected artwork and other uses, setting the stage for after-hours programming.

Opening exhibitions bring past, present, future together

The Manetti Shrem Museum opens with four inaugural exhibitions. The largest, Out Our Way, features 240 paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints drawn from the collections of major museums and private collections nationwide, as well as from the UC Davis Fine Arts Collection.

Represented in Out Our Way are Wayne Thiebaud, Robert Arneson, William T. Wiley, Roy De Forest, Roland Petersen, Manuel Neri, Ralph Johnson, Ruth Horsting, Daniel Shapiro, Tio Giambruni, Jane Garritson and John Baxter, the 12 artists hired as professors by Richard Nelson, the founding chair of the UC Davis art department, during his tenure (1952-70).

Additional exhibitions: Hoof & Foot: A Field Study — a site-specific multichannel video commission by Bay Area artist Chris Sollars; A Pot for a Latch — a participatory installation by the Mexico City-based artist Pia Camil; and Museum as Process — an exhibition on the architecture and making of the new museum organized by the architectural firm SO–IL.

In addition to the opening exhibitions, these artists’ projects will invite visitor activation or participation:

  •     Yoko Ono, Wish Trees for Peace, 1996–2016
  •     Sandra Shannonhouse, Copper Cage and Rosemary Place, 1994
  •     William T. Wiley, Gong, 1986

The Fine Arts Collection

The Manetti Shrem Museum is home to a collection built by artists, for artists. The Arneson, Neri and Thiebaud families are among the Fine Arts Collection’s most generous benefactors. In addition, first-generation faculty made gifts of their art. These gifts, however, remain a small proportion of the 5,000-plus objects that comprise the collection. Established in 1971, the Fine Arts Collection was founded with old master prints and objects to be studied in art and art history classes. Since that time, the collection has grown to be encyclopedic in scope, representing the university’s diverse intellectual interests.

Sustainability a high priority

The design of the Manetti Shrem Museum reflects the architects’ understanding that sustainability begins with fundamental choices, finding a new way to live with our environment. The museum is energy efficient, complying with the University of California’s sustainability policy to strive to attain LEED Gold certification and outperform California’s energy efficiency code by 30 percent. The all-LED lighting systems in the art-display and exterior areas of the museum reflect UC Davis’ commitment to sustainability. LED gallery lighting is occupancy controlled, which also helps protect art from light when galleries are not in use.

Manetti Shrem Museum supporters

The museum’s first champion was Margrit Mondavi, who understood the essential role of museums as places of inspiration and celebration. Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem, passionate believers in the role of art in education, are the lead patrons whose generosity has brought the museum to life.

“The museum is a combination of art presentation and art education. It will fulfill open minds and lift the souls of everyone who visits,” said Maria Manetti Shrem. “Its location at the great UC Davis with 36,000 students will give everyone access to art for a lifetime of inspiration and learning.”

“Our hopes and dream are to transmit to others what we ourselves have a passion for,” added Jan Shrem. “We are happy that the museum is free. Any student, or anyone, can go in and enrich his or her life.”

Museum hours

  • Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday — noon-6 p.m.
  • Thursday — noon-10 p.m.
  • Saturday and Sunday — 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Monday — closed

Directions and parking

From I-80 West (from Sacramento), take the UC Davis exit. Turn right onto Old Davis Road and continue north. The museum is located on Old Davis Road between Hilgard Lane and Alumni Lane.

From I-80 East (from Bay Area), take the UC Davis exit. Turn left onto Old Davis Road and continue north. The museum is located on Old Davis Road between Hilgard Lane and Alumni Lane.

From Highway 113 South (from Woodland), take the I-80 east off-ramp toward Sacramento. Take the UC Davis exit near the end of the ramp and turn left onto Old Davis Road and continue north. The museum is located on Old Davis Road between Hilgard Lane and Alumni Lane.


The Manetti Shrem Museum is located on the southeast portion of the UC Davis campus. Closest parking is in the Gateway Parking Structure across from the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts.

Parking permits are required from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and during events when special event attendants are present. Visitor permits are available for purchase upon entry to the parking structure.

Free valet bicycle parking is available for the grand opening day only.

To reach the front doors of the museum from the Gateway Parking Structure, walk along Old Davis Road and enter under the Roe Grand Canopy.


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