Gorman Museum Move

Gorman Collections Lab simulated

Gift pledge energizes museum expansion

Volunteer leadership is helping to ensure the longevity of the venerable C.N. Gorman Museum and its smooth transition to a new home on campus.

Gorman Museum UC Davis art
"Coyote Makes His Move" by Lyn Risling (B.A., art, ’73)

The C.N. Gorman Museum was founded in 1973 by the Department of Native American Studies in honor of retired faculty member Carl Nelson Gorman, a Navajo artist, World War II Code Talker, cultural historian, and advocate for Native peoples. A founding member of Native American Studies in 1969, Gorman was the first faculty member to teach Native American art at UC Davis.

Next year, the College of Letters and Science plans to move the museum to the former Nelson Gallery in the Arboretum — creating a nearly 200-fold increase in exhibition space, from 1,200 to 3,000 square feet. The museum has been located in a one-room gallery in Hart Hall since 1992. 

Longtime arts champions Bill and Nancy Roe recently pledged $250,000 toward its expansion.

“The new space will further elevate our teaching and research mission, amplify our impact, and create a showcase for contemporary Native American and indigenous fine art,” said Elizabeth Spiller, dean of the College. “We are so grateful to Nancy and Bill for this critical foundational support of the museum.” 

Gorman Collections storage imaginedThe expansion will include additional display cases and laboratory space — making more of the collections accessible to visitors and fulfilling the larger campus mandate for teaching and research. The lab will grant a behind-the-scenes look at working areas for the collections’ care and storage.

The Roes have been leaders for years in support of the arts in Davis and on campus, volunteering and making previous gifts to both the Gorman and the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art.

“The Roes are a treasure in the Davis community. We are particularly grateful to Nancy for serving as a member of our Dean’s Advisory Council for nearly a decade,” said Spiller.

Nancy graduated from Davis High School and enjoyed a long career as an elementary school teacher. Bill is a founding partner and co-owner of Davis-based real estate management company Tandem Properties. 

For more information on how you might support the Gorman Museum’s expansion, contact Charlene Mattison, assistant dean of college relations and development, at cmattison@ucdavis.edu.

Donna Justice, director of marketing and communications for the UC Davis College of Letters and Science, wrote this article for the fall 2019 issue of the College of Letters and Science Magazine