History of Friends of Art

Friends of Art was founded by Nancy Angell Streeter '50 [and the first meeting was held on March 16, 1965]. Nancy wrote:

"The Art Department and the College Resources Office were interested in establishing a Friends of Art organization if President Clapp would give her blessing. I was asked to co-chair such an organization with the Chair of the Art Department, who at that time was Curtiss Shell.

When we met with President Clapp, we emphasized the fact that there were no funds in the College budget that provided for the purchase of art for the Museum's permanent collection. As a teaching museum, it was, and still is, very necessary that works be continually acquired for the collection. We believed that a Friends of Art organization could attract people across the country who were involved in the arts and who could be helpful in raising funds for the purchase and conservation of works of art. Miss Clapp was not only agreeable to the founding of the Friends of Art, she joined as one of its first members."

The Dormitory Art Program was initiated that same year.

President Nan Keohane restructured the Museum to meet the Association of Art Museums (AAM) standards for college museums.

The first Museum Director was hired. Previously, the Chair of the Art Department was a priori Director of the museum.

Friends of Art celebrated its 25th anniversary with a three-day celebration at Wellesley.

The Davis Museum and Cultural Center opened its doors in a new building designed by Pritzker Architecture Prize winner, Rafael Moneo. This facility, Moneo’s first North American commission, immediately distinguished the Davis among its academic museum peers, and among the art museums and cultural institutions of the Greater Boston area.

The Friends of Art National Committee began meeting twice a year.

The Patron Society was established by Paula Kaplan Hawkins ’57 to recognize donors of $1000 or more.

The first Patrons trip was held in Los Angeles, beginning an annual tradition of trips to major US and international cities.

The Ruth Gordon Shapiro '37 Director of the Davis Museum and Cultural Center was established.

The National Committee completed a Strategic Plan for Friends of Art that focused the organization on raising unrestricted annual funds to support the Davis Museum.

The Patron Society raised the annual gift from $1,000 to $2,500 to coincide with the new Durant Scholar giving level established the previous year at the College. This resulted in revenue growth of 25%, the largest annual growth in the history of Friends of Art.

Dr. Lisa Fischman was appointed Ruth Gordon Shapiro '37 Director of the Davis Museum by President H. Kim Bottomly in February.

The museum was rebranded “the Davis,” capitalizing on the familiar nomenclature, much to the delight of Friends of Art stalwart Kathryn Wasserman Davis ’28.

The Patrons Trip was held in London—its first international venture.

Friends of Art celebrated its 50th anniversary with several initiatives, including: “Davis on the Road” events hosted by Friends of Art Regions, to spread the news of the Davis beyond the campus. “Friends of Art Voices” capture the Friends of Art legacy through an oral history program undertaken by students.

The Davis celebrated the 25th anniversary of its signature Rafael Moneo building.

Friends of Art hosted virtual events for the first time, allowing members from all over the world to attend.

The National Committee began a project to enhance the diversity of the group and relevance to younger alums.