James Watrous

Year inducted: 2005

The entire professional career of James Watrous centered upon the University of Wisconsin, Madison. There he gained his Bachelors, Masters and Doctorate degrees, and there he became a well-known and highly-regarded member of the faculty, teaching art and art history, and playing a pivotal role in several important university projects. Through his unyielding effort spread across several decades, James championed the creation of a university art museum which would serve as a repository for the university collections that he had gathered from scattered places across campus. That museum, which has become recognized as a center of learning for the state, is the Elvehjem. The Elvehjem was renamed the Chazen Museum of Art in 2005. This beautiful physical space was born of his influence and design. James was noted as a muralist, creating the famous Paul Bunyan murals in the University’s Memorial Union, and several others on campus and in Madison. He taught from the years 1935 to 1976, and remained active and associated with the university long after. His accomplishments include publication of two books on the subject of art. He gained the admiration of thousands of students. He received a Ford Foundation Fellowship, an Award of Merit from the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the Wisconsin Governor’s Award, the Porter Butts Creative Award, and an Honorary Fellowship in the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters. The Academy’s gallery in the Overture Fine Arts complex in Madison, dedicated in 2004, was named in his honor.

Works by James Watrous