Walter McNamara Papers

Identifier: 2012-03

Scope and Contents

The Walter McNamara Papers contains materials related to McNamara’s many exhibits, however, it is unlikely that this is a complete collection of his exhibits. It represents an excellent sampling of them, mostly in the form of announcements and posters.

A majority of the collection is comprised of posters and announcements for his numerous exhibits and range from small mailed flyers to large. These announcements typically include exhibit location information, title, collaborators, and some dates; dates do not always include the year of the exhibit. Also included is a catalog for his 1994 exhibit at the Nevada Museum of Art entitled “Bone-Horn-Wood-Etc.;” media articles relating to his artwork and exhibitions; and information on the 1986 Nevada Governor’s Arts Awards for which McNamara sculpted an original piece entitled “Arrowhead Nevada.” A biographical article written by Kirk Robertson in 1998 and published in the Reno News & Review is included.


  • 1968-2009


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Materials must be used on-site; advance notice suggested. Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law.

Biographical Note

Born in Stamford, Connecticut in 1939, Walter McNamara’s family relocated to the Reno, Nevada area in 1947. He attended the University of Nevada, Reno where he studied art. In 1964, he was hired as curator of the University's Sheppard Art Gallery, a position he served in until his retirement in 1992. Over the years in that position, he brought in a number of influential and diverse artists to exhibit their work including Nancy Grossman, Manuel Neri, Robert Arneson, Deborah Butterfield, John Altoon, Joan Brown, and William T. Wiley.

His retirement in 1992 in order to pursue his art on a full-time basis was a continuation of his career in creating art that focuses on the use of natural (e.g. bone, rocks, and wood) and man-made components. He has worked in many media formats including ceramics, drawing, painting mostly in the form of sculpture and collages. McNamara is most well-known for his distinct style of assembling objects that are not often associated as art into sculpture. His art work is represented in many private and public collections including the City of Reno, Convex Corporation in Illinois, Utah Museum of Fine Art, Nevada Museum of Art, and Rio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas.

Beginning in the early 1960s through the present, McNamara displayed his work in numerous prestigious exhibits, including the Whitney Museum Annual, Drawings USA, the Denver Art Museum and the Drawing Society National Touring Exhibit. He has received many grants and awards including two Nevada State Council of Art fellowships in 1989 and 1994, a City 2000 Reno Arts Commission grant in 1993, and an Annual Nevada Governor's Arts Award. Since 1965, McNamara has exhibited his work in over 50 solo exhibitions. One of those solo exhibits took place at the Nevada Museum of Art (1994). In addition, in 2012 McNamara exhibited three separate solo exhibits at the Oats Park Art Center in Fallon, and Truckee Meadows Community College and McKinley Arts and Cultural Center, both in Reno.

He continues to work on collage and sculpture in his north Reno studio with his partner Lynda Yuroff.


0.25 Linear Feet (1 box, 1 oversize folder)

Language of Materials



Walter McNamara (1939- ) is an artist who specializes in found material sculpture and collage. His art has been exhibited across the United States, especially in Nevada. This collection consists of announcements for his exhibitions held from 1968 to 2009 in the form of flyers and posters, a Nevada Museum of Art show catalog (1994) as well as other information regarding awards and projects with which he has been involved.


Materials are arranged by type and chronologically.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Walter McNamara in 2012.


Guide to the Walter McNamara Papers
Jessica Maddox
December 2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Nevada, Reno. Special Collections Department Repository

Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center
1664 N. Virginia St.
Reno Nevada 89557-0322 USA
775-682-5724 (Fax)