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Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art at the University of California, Davis names Rachel Teagle as new director

Rachel Teagle will bring more than 15 years of experience as a museum director and curator in San Diego and the Bay Area to her new role as director of the UC Davis museum, which is slated for completion in 2016.

Teagle, who is known for her work in arts education and in building new audiences for contemporary art, begins the job this week. She will lead the museum to completion and build an exhibition and educational program.

“I am thrilled to join UC Davis and humbled by the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to launch an art museum,” Teagle said. “UC Davis’ illustrious arts alumni and its legacy in the arts are key components of the university’s history of achievement. I look forward to working with members of the university and the community to create a world-class museum.”

Teagle, who earned a doctoral degree in contemporary art history from Stanford University, most recently served for five years as the executive director of The New Children’s Museum in San Diego. She led the team that distinguished the museum as the only museum in the United States dedicated to commissioning leading contemporary artists to create works for children. She also led a successful $27 million capital campaign for a major renovation of the museum.

At The New Children’s Museum, Teagle also spearheaded educational programs that focused on public engagement and teaching art appreciation to families, with a goal of making art more meaningful and accessible to visitors.

She has also held curatorial positions at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Bay Area’s Anderson Collection, a private collection made up primarily of post-World War II American art.

The museum at UC Davis was named in December for donors Jan Shrem, proprietor of Clos Pegase winery in the Napa Valley, and his wife, arts patron Maria Manetti Shrem. They gave $10 million to name the museum, which will serve as a teaching and cultural resource for the region.

The museum will provide 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.

Both Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem expressed their support for the recruitment. “We feel very fortunate to warmly welcome Rachel Teagle to the UC Davis campus and community, which has, in many ways, become our second family,” the Shrems said. “Her tremendous history of collaborating with artists, educators and audiences brings so many wonderful strengths to the museum project. We look forward to working with her and supporting her every step of the way.”

Jessie Ann Owens, dean of UC Davis’ Division of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies, said Teagle’s expertise brings momentum to the museum project. “We are very fortunate to have attracted a museum professional of Rachel’s caliber to campus,” she said, noting that Teagle has an excellent track record of leading capital campaigns. “She will lead the development of museum programming, architectural planning and construction of the new museum as well as direct the campaign to create an endowment for the museum. Rachel is just the right person to help us envision a university museum that can both build on the important history of the visual arts at UC Davis and become a center for collaboration and innovation.”

The museum creates the potential for new academic programs for students, such as museum studies, curatorial and preservation studies as well as a scholarly archive of artists’ papers and materials.

The museum is expected to cost $30 million to construct, with half of that, $15 million, 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 repaid from campus funds such as short-term interest earnings. The university will not use any student tuition, fees or state funds to construct the museum.

In addition, UC Davis will launch a campaign to raise between $5 million and $20 million to create an endowment to support museum programs and operations.