The C.N. Gorman Museum was founded in 1973 by the Department of Native American Studies in honor of retired faculty member, Carl Nelson Gorman, Navajo artist, WWII code-talker, cultural historian, and advocate for Native peoples. As a founding faculty member of Native American Studies, Gorman was the first faculty member to teach Native American art at UC Davis in 1969.
For over forty-five years, the C.N. Gorman Museum has been dedicated to the creative expressions of Native American artists and artists of diverse cultures and histories. The Museum's reputation of artistic excellence is proven by its company of exhibiting artists, including some of the most established Native artists as well as the next generations of emerging Indigenous artists. The C.N. Gorman Museum is unique for its commitment to exhibiting works by living Indigenous artists, particularly within an educational institution.