Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University
|Zimmerli Art Museum
at Rutgers University
|Location||New Brunswick, New Jersey|
|Public transit access||New Brunswick Station (New Jersey Transit)|
The Zimmerli Art Museum is located on the Voorhees Mall of the campus of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The museum houses more than 60,000 works, including Russian and Soviet Nonconformist Art from the acclaimed Dodge Collection, American art from the 18th century to the present, and six centuries of European art with a particular focus on 19th-century French art. The Zimmerli is also noted for its strong holdings of works on paper, including prints, drawings, photographs, original illustrations for children's books, and rare books.
The Zimmerli Art Museum was founded in 1966 as the Rutgers University Art Gallery to celebrate the university’s bicentennial. The gallery was expanded in 1983 and renamed the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum in honor of the mother of Ralph and Alan Voorhees, the major benefactors for the museum’s expansion.
One of the largest and most distinguished university-based art museums in the United States, the Zimmerli occupies a 70,000-square-foot facility, which is located on the New Brunswick campus of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Established in 1766, Rutgers is America’s eighth oldest institution of higher learning and a premier public research university.
The museum’s permanent collection totals more than 60,000 works in a wide range of media and includes a survey of Western art from the 15th century to the present. The Zimmerli has particularly strong holdings in:
- 19th-century French art, particularly prints and rare books
- Russian art and Soviet nonconformist art from the Dodge Collection
- American art, especially prints
Selections from these holdings, along with focused presentations of European art, art inspired by Japan (called Japonisme), ancient Greek and Roman art, Pre-Columbian art, and American illustrations for children’s books, are always on view at the Zimmerli. The museum also makes these holding available through an active program of loans to art museums nationally and internationally, as well as and through participation in The Google Art Project and, in the coming months, ARTstor.
Programs and exhibitions
Throughout the year, the Zimmerli presents world-class exhibitions with an international focus that reflect its role as a teaching museum with an interdisciplinary perspective. Serving both the university community and audiences from New Jersey and beyond, the Zimmerli offers a lively array of programs for audiences of all ages. Rutgers students and community members alike enjoy the monthly Art after Hours: First Wednesdays, when the museum is open late, offering exhibition tours, artist talks, music and dance performances, films, performance art, and more. The museum opens its doors free to the public the first Sunday of each month and offers spotlight tours every Sunday afternoon. The Zimmerli also houses the Museum Store and a café for the convenience of visitors.
As a teaching museum, the Zimmerli contributes not only to the academic programs of undergraduate and graduate students at Rutgers, but offers the broader community opportunities for lifelong learning and enjoyment. Rutgers faculty from both the humanities and the sciences use the museum for their classes to stimulate interdisciplinary inquiry among undergraduate and graduate students from all areas of study. The Zimmerli collaborates with the university’s Department of Art History in its curatorial training programs, as well as through its endowed fellowships and internships for graduate students seeking careers in the museum field. Elementary and secondary students enjoy interactive tours designed for their age groups and academic requirements. Teachers of K-12 students benefit from workshops that the Zimmerli organizes in collaboration with the Rutgers Graduate School of Education and satisfy mandated professional development requirements. In addition, the museum offers drawing workshops for all ages, as well as storytelling for preschoolers and day trips for adults who wish to learn more about specific aspects of art.
The Zimmerli serves the Rutgers community, as well as visiting scholars from around the world, with access to its collection and archives in the Morse Research Center Study Room. The Zimmerli also produces scholarly publications, recently publishing Moscow Conceptualism in Context and Dancing in the Dark: Joan Snyder Prints in cooperation with Prestel. The museum makes its collection available to the wider world through its participation in The Google Art Project and ARTstor.
- Google Art Project, Zimmerli Museum of Art at Rutgers University, 51 Artworks by 45 Artists
- ARTstor, Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University, 250+ images of nonconformist art from the Soviet Union
The Zimmerli Art Museum’s American art collection – numbering more than 16,500 objects – includes paintings, sculpture, works on paper (prints, drawings, and photographs), and decorative arts. The earliest paintings in the Zimmerli’s collection date to the late 18th century, when the United States and Rutgers University – then called Queen’s College – were in their infancy. Reflecting America’s rich artistic and cultural heritage, the museum showcases examples of portraiture, landscape, still life, narrative art, and abstraction. Modern and contemporary styles represented in the collection include precisionism, surrealism, abstract expressionism, geometric abstraction, pop and op art, Fluxus, photo-realism, and minimalism, as well as works that explore social and political issues. Work by women artists is a distinguishing aspect of the Zimmerli’s American holdings and signals Rutgers’ pioneering role in women’s studies.
The Zimmerli’s collection of European art comprises paintings, sculpture, works on paper, rare books, and decorative arts, and ranges in date from the Renaissance to the present, totaling close to 10,000 objects, with its primary strength in French 19th-century works on paper, notably prints and rare books. Strongly represented subjects include portraits and caricatures, landscapes, and popular entertainments. Also among the European holdings is a renowned collection of Japonisme, late-19th-century works by European artists inspired by Japanese art and aesthetics.
Russian art and Soviet nonconformist art
The Zimmerli’s Russian and Soviet nonconformist art holdings contain some 22,000 objects and provide a unique overview of art in Russia from the 14th century to the present. The Imperial era of Russian art is represented through George Riabov’s 1990 donation, which spans styles and subjects that represent Russia’s diverse artistic heritage, genres, and visual cultures. The Zimmerli holds the largest collection in the world of Soviet nonconformist art, the gift of Norton and Nancy Dodge in 1991. More than 20,000 works by close to 1,000 artists reveal a culture that defied the politically imposed conventions of Socialist Realism. All media are represented, including paintings on canvas and panel, sculpture, assemblage, decorative objects, installations, works on paper, photography, video, artists’ books and self-published texts called samizdat. This encyclopedic array of nonconformist art extends from about 1956 to 1986, from the beginning of Khrushchev’s cultural “thaw” to the advent of Gorbachev’s glasnost and perestroika. Work created during the Gorbachev era (through 1991) is also represented. The collection includes art made in Russia, as well as many examples of nonconformist art produced in the Soviet republics: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. A recent generous gift by Claude and Nina Gruen extends the Zimmerli Russian art holdings to post-Perestroika work produced since 1986. Many of these artworks were made by former Soviet artists now living in the diaspora. In addition, the Zimmerli has seven archives associated with Soviet nonconformist art. Collectively, these archives include more than 50,000 items that are being catalogued.
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