The UC Davis Design Museum is looking back at its history in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the design department.
Its newest exhibition, Teaching With Evidence: Faculty Gifts from the UC Davis Design Museum brings to display important pieces that have acted as the inspiration for some of the curriculum and focus of research of the design program. The exhibit opens today at the Design Museum at Walker Hall, and an opening reception and talk will be held on Sunday at 1 p.m. at the museum.
Senior design lecturer emerita Jo Ann Stabb began working in the department in 1968 as a professor and witnessed the beginnings of the museum, acting as the collection’s curator until 2002.
She said that the collection at the Design Museum is a valuable research and teaching tool.
“It evolved,” Stabb said. “We kept getting better and better donations, no longer just out of attics. In the late ‘70s, we had enough [artifacts so] that we really needed some help.“
The point behind the Design Collection was to have actual examples to study and for students to have access, Stabb added. She said that during her time as a professor, she would find certain pieces that she would go back to and include in her lesson plan year after year.
“It was really a study and research collection so [students] could look at [pieces],” Stabb said. “We keep talking about the virtual world, but when it comes to the material aspects of our world, we really need to see it in person in order to understand it.“
For the exhibit, Stabb donated a series of lithographs that depict late 19th century fashions from France and Germany. The lithographs are still currently used as examples for Design 143: History of Costume as well as the fashion illustration course in the apparel design series.
Other pieces in the exhibition include a Kohistani woman’s tunic from design professor Victoria Rivers, an Afghani woman’s kurta from design professor emerita Katherine Rossbach and an embroidered coat from China loaned from the UC Davis drama department.
Art history professor Jeffrey Ruda, who donated a silk textile piece from the 1700s, noted the importance of design history and having the actual pieces to observe.
“For me, design history combines intellectual and sensory excitement,” Ruda said. “That’s why I collected textiles. We do learn from photographs, but no picture yields the optical richness of an original.“
The holdings at the museum expanded from the original teaching collection to a general collection. Associate professor and collection curator Adele Zhang said that this change allowed for a better chance to serve the community.
“[We can] promote collaborative relationships with other institutes and upgrade our collection to a new level to research and conserve the material cultures,” Zhang said.
This year, the museum will also present “Trans-4-Mations,” a research project that explores the personal stories from members of the Design Program.
“Teaching with Evidence“ opens today at the Design Museum in Walker Hall. An opening talk and reception will be held on Sunday at 1 p.m. For more information, visit designmuseum.ucdavis.edu.
RACHEL FILIPINAS can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.