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Davis, California

Thursday, June 13, 2024

A history in photographs

One hundred years ago, a handful of people ate a meal outdoors and talked about their plans for the University Farm. A photograph of this event – the event that would later be known as UC Davis’ first annual Picnic Day – is the first of many thought-provoking images from the Art Lounge’s inaugural collection.

In The Aggie Scrapbook: A Glimpse of Student Life – The Last 100 Years, students are treated to representations of classes from years past. The exhibit was organized by senior Italian and communication double major Sarah Mendelsohn and senior art history student Nicki Rousseva. They designed it with the intention that students would take part in the university’s Centennial celebration.

“Much of the planning regarding the Centennial revolves around the very important achievements in the areas of research, academic excellence and more,” said Theresa Montemayor, the assistant director of Campus Unions, in an e-mail interview. “We wanted something fun, and my staff from last year thought doing something like this would resonate with students.”

At the grand opening on Monday, students responded positively to the photographs.

“It’s important to see the history, to see where [UC Davis] has come from as a university,” said junior animal biology major Bridget Griffin.

The exhibit chronicles day-to-day occurrences, historical campus events and annual celebrations since 1908.

“We took the timeline from the Centennial webpage and identified more student-related events,” Montemayor said.

Images of sparsely furnished dorm rooms from 1925 easily draw comparison to those inhabited by today’s freshmen. With the exception of the bare skyline and swimmers donning frilly suits, photos from 1948 show Hickey Pool to be relatively unchanged. Even young men from Sigma Alpha Epsilon can be seen pulling pranks on fellow brothers as far back as the ’50s.

Mendelsohn, who is also assistant student manager of the Art Lounge, credited the community’s involvement for the exhibit’s flavor and heart. Once the project had a direction, she said that it “grew a mind of its own.”

The photographs were collected from library and newspaper archives, as well as personal submissions from alumni and professional photographers. The collection also includes pieces from UC Davis’ exhibit at this summer’s California State Fair.

Located on the second floor of the Memorial Union, the space was previously called The Gallery before closing in mid-June to begin its transformation to The Art Lounge.

Campus Unions combined the artistic ambience of The Gallery with the casual atmosphere of a study room to create the new Art Lounge. Students are expected to take initiative in using, maintaining and contributing to the Art Lounge.

The Aggie Scrapbook is currently on display at The Art Lounge, which is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. Admission is free. For more information, visit campusunions.ucdavis.edu/thegallery.


LAURA KROEGER can be reached at arts@californiaaggie.com.


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