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Margrit Mondavi's $2 Million Pledge Launches Fundraising Drive for UC Davis Art Museum

DAVIS, CA.- Philanthropist Margrit Biever Mondavi has pledged $2 million to help the University of California, Davis, plan and build a new art museum that will house and display some 4,000 works that the university has collected over the past 40 years.

The pledge marks the start of a $30 million fundraising initiative for the project. The new museum will serve as a teaching and cultural resource for the university and the public.

Mondavi is an artist and avid supporter of the arts. She and her husband, the late Robert Mondavi, in 2001 gave UC Davis the largest single gift it had ever received, $35 million to support the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, and the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts.

“It was a pleasure indeed to tell Chancellor Linda Katehi that I would like to initiate the fundraising for a new museum at UC Davis with a pledge of $2 million,” Mondavi said.

“The excellent teaching artists of the past and the prominent faculty at UC Davis today deserve a great home for art, which is an ongoing love affair of my life.”

Katehi hailed Mondavi as a “visionary leader who has been instrumental in shaping the university as one of the world’s finest.”

“By supporting our internationally renowned programs in the science of wine and food, as well as the performing and visual arts, Margrit aims to nurture the very body and soul of both the university and society as a whole,” Katehi said.

Jessie Ann Owens, dean of the Division of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies, also applauded the generous philanthropist.

“Margrit Mondavi is an inspiration to me and to UC Davis — her passion and commitment to the arts, and her generosity of spirit have lifted us all,” Owens said.

The art museum will be constructed on a site between the Mondavi Center and Maurice J. Gallagher Jr. Hall, the new home of the university’s Graduate School of Management. When it opens, the museum will complete the campus’s new “front door,” easily accessible from Interstate 80, the main corridor between San Francisco and the state Capitol in Sacramento.

The new museum will display and hold most of the university’s Fine Arts Collection, much of which has been carefully stored for years in the Art Building. In addition, the museum will be used to carry out the university’s teaching and research mission.

“Margrit Mondavi’s continued altruism is surpassed only by her great personal zeal and spirit of life,” said Wayne Thiebaud, a UC Davis professor emeritus of art and one of the most important contemporary American artists. “Once again she helps to advance the university’s ongoing progress toward creating a rich environment for us all.”

Thiebaud, who recently donated 20 hand-worked prints valued at nearly $900,000 to UC Davis, is among a prominent group of art department alumni and emeriti that includes Roland Petersen, the late Robert Arneson, the late Roy De Forest, Malaquias Montoya, Deborah Butterfield and Bruce Nauman.

UC Davis has a long history of excellence in the arts. In the 1960s, faculty artists such as Thiebaud, Arneson, De Forest and William T. Wiley broke down barriers and asked new questions about making art. With the help of founding chairman and professor Richard L. Nelson, the art department became one of the highest ranked in the country. The founding artists and many alumni are represented in major museums, galleries and private collections around the world.

Planning for the art museum began in 2006. The university hired Museum Management Consultants of San Francisco and gathered university representatives and regional arts supporters to develop a strategic plan and mission for the project.

Margrit Mondavi’s pledge provides the first $2 million toward the $30 million fundraising goal. The university also is seeking a lead donor for whom the museum would be named and will soon launch a broader, public fundraising effort for the project.

With $30 million in hand, the university would be able to move forward with the design phase of the project.

The museum will display the university’s extensive art collection for a much wider audience. The approximately 4,000 works range from Asian prints, drawings and ceramics to European works dating to the Renaissance.

Areas of particular strength include Northern California postwar art by distinguished artists associated with the UC Davis art department, including the founding faculty, former faculty such as Manuel Neri, and alumni such as Butterfield, Nauman and John Buck. The collection also contains a set of lithographs by James McNeill Whistler.

University of California | Margrit Biever Mondavi | Linda Katehi |

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