Maria Manetti Shrem
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Born in Florence, Italy, Maria Manetti Shrem moved to San Francisco in 1972. She became instrumental in the internationalization of some of the world’s most iconic fashion brands, such as Gucci, Fendi, and Mark Cross under the umbrella brand of Manetti Farrow, designing a new and successful distribution system in North America and eventually boosting their global market.
In the 1980s, Maria created one of the most elegant estates in Napa Valley—Villa Mille Rose—where she hosted international artists and celebrities including Luciano Pavarotti, Sophia Loren, Renée Fleming, Plácido Domingo, Nancy Pelosi, Kamala Harris, Gavin Newsom, Isabel Allende, Marchese Piero Antinori, and Andrea Bocelli, to name only a few. As a result, she established herself as the quintessential ambassador of “Made in Italy” creations and Italian lifestyle in the San Francisco Bay Area.
She spends time between the San Francisco Bay Area and Florence and enjoys traveling all over the world while continuing to learn about contemporary art, cultural heritage preservation, and the most refined winemaking brands.
Maria and her husband, Jan Shrem, have long contributed philanthropic support within the fields of education (high schools and colleges), fine arts (museums), performing art centers (operatic and symphonic concert halls), medical research (hospitals), and nonprofit cultural organizations in the US, Italy, and the UK. The Manetti Shrems currently support more than 30 charities, with favorites in the US including the Metropolitan Opera in New York City (the first time that the General Manager position—Peter Gelb—has been named thanks to Maria Manetti Shrem), the San Francisco Opera, the San Francisco Symphony, Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, KQED, Festival Napa Valley, Cal Performances, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Francisco Park (community garden), SFFilm, ArtSmart, and UCSF (neurology) and CPMC (cardiology) hospitals. In Europe, Maria is one of the principal benefactors of the Royal Drawing School (established by His Royal Highness, Prince Charles), Friends of the Louvre, Friends of Versailles, the Venetian Heritage, the Italian National Trust (FAI), Palazzo Strozzi Museum Foundation, and the Andrea Bocelli Foundation, with whom she has supported to the construction of four new schools, including one at Meyer Children’s Hospital.
The Manetti Shrems—beyond their collection of pieces including works by Picasso, Moore, Burri, and Bacon—are co-founders of the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art at UC Davis, which opened its doors on November 13, 2016, realizing a goal that was 60 years in the making. The museum’s collection includes works by major California artists such as Wayne Thiebaud, William T. Wiley, Robert Arneson, Roy De Forest, Ruth Horsting, Manuel Neri, and Roland Petersen. The museum holds 30% of its space for educational and hands-on projects, providing a dedicated area for workshops, like in the Florentine Renaissance tradition of the “Bottega dell’Arte” where artists can learn by doing. The extraordinary architectural design of the museum—which was praised in ARTnews as “One of The World’s 25 Best Museum Buildings of the Past 100 Years,” curated by New York-based architect Florian Idenburg (SO-IL)—has already won 18 awards (six from international organizations); it has also been listed as one of the nation’s top 10 teaching museums.
Maria has received numerous prestigious awards and recognitions as an outstanding and influential cultural ambassador strengthening the relationships between the US and Italy, California and Tuscany, and the San Francisco Bay Area and Florence. In 2019, the President of Italy, Sergio Mattarella, bestowed upon her the title of “Grand Officer of the Order of the Star of Italy.” On March 16, 2022, the mayor of Florence, Dario Nardella, awarded her “The Keys of the City of Florence,” as an inspiring role model of patronage following the Renaissance legacy of the Medici family, defining her as “the new Elettrice Palatina”—the latest heiress of the Medici family. On June 22, 2022, Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem were the inaugural recipients of “The Angels of the Arts Award,” Festival Napa Valley’s highest honor. On the same occasion, the Mayor of San Francisco, London Breed, along with the County and the City, proclaimed June 22, Manetti Shrem Day, dedicated to fostering philanthropy.
The 25 Best Museum Buildings of the Past 100 Years
Manetti Shrem Museum made in Artnews list of The 25 Best Museum Buildings of the Past 100 Years