Legacy

The Manetti Shrem Museum is a new museum 60 years in the making. In 1959, a then brand-new university known for its school of agriculture established an art department. (UC Davis was known as the College of Agriculture for UC Berkeley from 1908 - 1959, when it then became a general campus).

The founding chair of the Department of Art, Richard Nelson, was a visionary leader who assembled a roster of diverse talents. Together, these artists developed into one of the preeminent M.F.A. programs in the United States. With a profound commitment to teaching and by fully integrating students into all of their creative endeavors, within a decade the art department was recognized internationally as one of the most lively and experimental communities of artists working in the world. 

Together, these artists formed what nowadays we call a “creative community” of individuals with diverse interests, a dedication to the inherent properties of their materials, and a commitment to experimentation. "It felt,” William T. Wiley has described the atmosphere in the fledgling department, “like anything was possible.” Roy De Forest wrote the catalogue entry to the 1967 Masters of Art exhibition (pictured here is Robyn Martin's thesis project and group photo of the department). He explained the department’s approach, “In a time of social disruption, scientific rationalization, and political instability, the creation of art is an act of dangerous faith.” 

(Photo above: Robyn Martin's M.F.A. Review. Top row: Harold Schlotzhauer, Dick Nelson, Bob Morrison, Ralph Johnson, Gary Molitor, Dick Cramer, Roland Peterson, David Gilhooly. Next row: Ruth Horsting, Robyn Winters, Dan Shapiro, Jeannie Martin, Tio Giambruni, Manuel Neri.)

A Timeline of UC Davis Arts

As UC Davis builds a museum for generations to come, we are also looking back at UC Davis' legacy in the arts. We have compiled this timeline based on historical information. We need your help to confirm the details in this document and will update the timeline quarterly.

Email comments, suggestions or questions to: manettishrem@ucdavis.edu

  • Richard L. Nelson, founder of Department of Art (hired in 1953)

  • Roland Petersen (joined the faculty in 1956)

  • Ralph Johnson (joined the faculty in 1957)

  • Ruth Horsting (joined the faculty in 1959, first woman sculptor hired by the University of California)

  • Wayne Thiebaud (joined the faculty in 1959)

  • Tio Giambruni (joined the faculty in 1961)

  • Jane Garritson (joined the faculty in 1963)

  • John Baxter (joined the faculty in 1964)

  • Robert Arneson (joined faculty in 1964)

  • Manuel Neri (joined the faculty in 1966)

  • Daniel Shapiro (joined the art department in 1966)

  • Roy De Forest (joined the faculty in 1966)

  • William T. Wiley (joined faculty in 1966)