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The design for the Davis Museum and Cultural Center was the first commission in the United States for the distinguished Madrid-based architect Jose Rafael Moneo, professor of architecture and former chair of the Department of Architecture, Harvard University Graduate School of Design.
The museum was praised as "nothing short of magnificent.... a truly spectacular architectural experience" by Paul Goldberger, architecture critic of the New York Times. Moneo also designed renovations to the adjacent Jewett Arts Center and Pendleton Hall West, linking them by bridges to the new Museum. The Davis Museum and Cultural Center opened in October, 1993. It is named for Trustee and Alumna Kathryn Wasserman Davis and her husband Shelby Cullom Davis, who made a cornerstone gift for the Museum in 1988 as part of Wellesley College's capital campaign.
The $11.7 million building, designed to serve students, faculty, and the general public, includes 61,000 gross square feet, 32,920 net square feet, and 17,250 square feel of gallery space.
Facilities include space for works from the permanent collection, for special exhibitions, for a cinema and cafe, and for administration, storage, preparation, and conservation.
The Wellesley College Art Museum, which became the Davis Museum, originated in 1889, when the College opened Farnsworth Art Building, which contained galleries for the College's collections. The Museum moved to galleries in the Jewett Arts Center when the Center opened in 1958 where it remained until the Davis opened.
The Davis Museum's collection of more than 5,000 objects is "encyclopedic," meaning that it includes works from all periods and cultures. Paintings by Copley, Corot, Monet, Millet, and Cezanne; drawings by Homer, Kandinsky, Klee, Degas, and Matisse; prints by Rembrandt, Delacroix, and Lichtenstein; African sculpture, classical artifacts, and pre-Columbian pottery are among the highlights.
The Davis Museum and Cultural Center is located on the campus of Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA, about thirty minutes west of downtown Boston, accessible from either route 135 or route 16.