San Francisco Social Diary: Manetti Shrem Museum to Open in 2016-17

The future Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art at UC Davis will provide a cutting-edge arts and education facility for the university and the entire region.


Recently, I celebrated another construction milestone for the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, the new museum at the University of California, Davis set to open next year. The museum’s “topping out” ceremony commemorated the final beam being put in place.

The university’s new facility is a state-of-the-art museum with a profound commitment to education. Students and other visitors will experience art in an intimate setting that provides exciting new resources to explore and celebrate UC Davis’s rich artistic legacy. With its art studio and art history programs and exhibitions, the museum will play an important role expanding art access to all students.

Located 15 miles west of Sacramento, UC Davis is one of the nation’s top 10 public research universities, and is currently ranked first in its veterinarian and agricultural programs, the latter of which includes top programs in viticulture (study of grape cultivation) and enology (study of wines).

A rendering of the future UC Davis Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, which will open in 2016–17.

The museum features a 125-seat lecture hall, a classroom for seminars with direct access to the Fine Arts Collection, and most prominently an indoor-outdoor wet studio for hands-on art making.

The “Grand Canopy” is a 50,000-square-foot permeable cover that floats over a series of interconnected indoor and outdoor spaces.


The Manetti Shrem Museum will showcase the university’s legacy in the arts, particularly from 1960 to 1980, when renowned artists such as Wayne Thiebaud, William T. Wiley, and Robert Arneson taught there.

The faculty from those decades influenced generations of students, many of whom went on to become recognized artists in their own right, among them Deborah Butterfield, Bruce Nauman, Nancy Rubins, and Terry Berlier.

When it opens, the new museum with its soaring canopy, will provide 50,000-square feet of space dedicated to education and exhibition.

The facility includes secure art display space, as well as an events plaza, climate-controlled indoor exhibition space, gallery pavilion, and arts education pavilion.

Among the 5,000-piece Fine Arts Collection at UC Davis: The Palace at 9 a.m. (1974) by Robert Arneson.

Big Suckers (1971) by Wayne Thiebaud.

Beginning Passes (1976) by William T. Wiley.

Sancas I (1991) by Manuel Neri.

Red Dog (1981) by Roy De Forest.


In 2011, Jan Shrem, founder of Napa Valley winery Clos Pegase, and his wife, arts benefactor Maria Manetti Shrem, gave $10 million to UC Davis to name a new museum of art.

Philanthropists Maria Manetti Shrem and Jan Shrem.

How did this all come together? Margrit Mondavi donated $2 million to launch the museum project, and then approached her dear friends Jan and Maria for their support.

The Shrems are delighted to have their names memorialized next to that of their good friend Margrit Mondavi and her late husband, Robert. The Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts sits kitty-corner from the future museum.

Maria Manetti Shrem and Margrit Mondavi.

The Mondavi Center is a state-of-the-art facility renowned for its outstanding acoustics and attractive design.


Married three years ago, the prominent couple still seem to be on their honeymoon. The couple came together through mutual interests: the enjoyment of food, wine, friends, education, and all forms of visual art and performing arts, especially classical music and opera.

“Our philosophy of giving rests on simple concepts,” says Maria. She and Jan 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.”

Maria and Jan bonded over their shared love for art, opera, travel, food, and culture.


The museum was designed by NY-based architecture firm Solid Objectives – Idenburg Liu (SO – IL), in partnership with SF-based Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, and is being built by contractor Whiting-Turner. “Our passion lies in making public spaces where people come together,” said SO – IL architect Florian Idenburg.

The museum design integrates with the university’s art department by dedicating 24% of museum space to education, allowing for the first time, a broad segment of the undergraduate population to study an interdisciplinary approach to art history, to cultivate individual creativity, and to create art within the museum.

SO – IL principals Ilias Papageorgiou, Florian Idenburg, and Jing Liu, who collectively won the Museum of Modern Art’s prestigious Young Architects Program award in 2010.

Among Bohlin Cywinski Jackson’s projects are New York’s Fifth Avenue Apple store and the Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, CA (pictured).


Soon after the donation, a ceremonial groundbreaking for the Manetti Shrem Museum took place on March 1, 2014, on the UC Davis campus.

Maria Manetti Shrem and Jan Shrem at the groundbreaking ceremony.

At the museum groundbreaking: Jessie Ann Owens, Margrit Mondavi, Maria Manetti Shrem, Jan Shrem, Spyros Tseregounis, Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi, Manetti Shrem Museum Founding Director Rachel Teagle, and artist Manuel Neri.

Jan Shrem, Spyros Tseregounis, Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi, Rachel Teagle, and artist Manuel Neri.

UC Davis student performances added to the festive mood of the day.

The Shrems with friends and family at the museum groundbreaking.

Rolando Beramendi, Maria Manetti Shrem, and Jan Shrem.

UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi with husband Spyros Tseregounis.

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego Director Hugh Davies, Faye Hunter, and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Director Neal Benezra, a UC Davis alumnus (class of ’78).


After the groundbreaking ceremony, guests were invited to a reception and student art fair.

Maria Manetti Shrem’s relatives: niece Beatrice Ruini, grandniece Camilla Ruini, and sister Corina Manetti, in from Tuscany.

Spyros Tseregounis, Margrit Mondavi, and Jim Evans.

Lucy Buchanan, James Ho, Tatiana Sorokko, Maria Manetti Shrem, Jan Shrem, and Doreen Woo Ho.

Gallerists Serge and Tatiana Sorokko.

Katrina Sperry and Conrad Grodd.

Mary Webster, artist William T. Wiley, and Joan De Paoli.

Sandra Lloyd, Barbara George, and Spyros Tseregounis.


The next milestone for the Manetti Shrem Museum was its topping out ceremony in March 2015. A tradition in construction projects, “topping out” is a celebration marking the placement of the final beam. The ceremony allowed guests to connect with the museum both literally and symbolically.

Before the ceremony, UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi and her husband Spyros Tseregounis hosted a luncheon for museum supporters and friends at their residence. Guests enjoyed a “farm to table” lunch and California wines, appropriate since UC Davis is one of the top agricultural schools in the world.

At the luncheon, guests got a look at a Manetti Shrem Museum rendering, at which arts education is “out front”—students studying and making art will be the first thing visitors see.

“With its inspirational design and dedication to education and the arts, the Manetti Shrem Museum will stand as a monument to creative expression and discovery,” said Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi.

Luncheon guests included Camilla Ruini, Maria Manetti Shrem, Jan Shrem, and Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi.

Jeanne Lawrence, Pam Kramlich, Barbara George, Mary Pilara, and Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi.

Camilla Ruini and Linh Nguyen.

Pam Kramlich, Adria Bini, Mary Pilara, and Barbara George.

Maria Manetti Shrem and Sabrina Persson of Hess Winery.

Jeanne Lawrence and Ken Monnens played with the markers to be used for signing their names on the steel beam.


After lunch, we headed to the ceremony at the museum construction site, to which UC Davis students, faculty, staff, family and friends, as well as the general public, were all invited. Busloads of the Shrems’ friends arrived from San Francisco, Napa Valley, Sonoma, and the Bay Area to celebrate.

Chancellor Linda P. B. Katehi, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter, and Manetti Shrem Museum Founding Director Rachel Teagle spoke. Teagle had invited the campus community to be part of the topping out ceremony, “an historic event.”

UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi, Margrit Mondavi, Maria Manetti Shrem, and Jan Shrem at the topping out celebration.

Museum Founding Director Rachel Teagle (at podium) and (seated, from left) Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi and Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter.


UC Davis campus and community members were invited to become part of history by placing their signatures on the final steel beam being put into place. It was a very exciting day indeed!

The signed beam will be visible in the art studio within the Art Education Pavilion.

The art studio will eventually house studio space for a future artist-in-residence.

Margrit Mondavi, Maria Manetti Shrem, and Jan Shrem signed the beam together.

Art supporters of all ages attended the ceremony.

Rita Gibson (class of ’82) and Paul Weaver.

Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi and Ken Monnens (class of ’76).



After signing their names, guests watched as the final beam was hoisted.

Architect and SO – IL co-founder Florian Idenburg (at right) signing the beam.

The beam will be permanently visible upon the museum’s completion.

Margrit Mondavi, Wayne Thiebaud, Ken Monnens, and Jeanne Lawrence.


After a reception, guests and the architects walked over to the construction site to get a closer look at the museum in progress.

A mock-up of a lobby wall gave a glimpse of what the museum will look like.

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson Principal Karl Backus, Whiting-Turner VP Jack Stackalis, SO – IL architect Florian Idenburg, UC Davis Provost Ralph J. Hexter, and UC Davis Campus Architect Clayton Halliday.

Carol Parker, Dennis Calas, and Lorna Meyer Calas.

Linh Nguyen and Beatrice Ruini.

Linda Lieu, Loi Tran, and granddaughter Charlotte Do.


By July, the construction of this cutting-edge facility was well on its way. The campus and community at large are no doubt excited to see the vision come to fruition.


Ann and Gordon Getty, dear friends of Maria and Jan Shrem, were supporters of the museum from the very beginning, and Ann serves as an honorary board member. To kick off the project, earlier in the year the Gettys hosted an elegant sit-down dinner in their Pacific Heights home.

A host of dignitaries, supporters, friends, and family drove in to celebrate. Guests discussed plans for the museum, and eagerly anticipated the completion of the spectacular addition to the campus.

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Jan Shrem, Maria Manetti Shrem, Rachel Teagle, Ann Getty, and Gordon Getty.

Dennis Calas, Gerry Parker, Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi, and Spyros Tseregounis.

Linda P.B. Katehi, artist William T. Wiley, Mary Hull Webster, Barbara George, Wayne Thiebaud, and Ronald George.

Deborah Hatch, artist Wayne Thiebaud, and Jeremy Stone.

Carol Parker, Ronald George, Barbara George, and Linda P.B. Katehi.

Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi with UC Davis founding faculty members, the renowned artists Wayne Thiebaud and William T. Wiley.

Stephanie Lawrence, Gordon Getty, and Jeanne Lawrence.

Rick Walker (class of ’80) and Karen Walker.

Sabrina and Timothy Persson.

Edward Frank and Sarah Ratchye.


Photographs by Drew Altizer, Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis, Tia Gemmell, Beatrice Ruini, Jeanne Lawrence, SO – IL, and UC Davis.

*Urbanite Jeanne Lawrence reports on lifestyle and travel from her homes in San Francisco, Shanghai, and New York, and wherever else she finds a good story.

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