NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ -There is a saying that goes: the earth without art would just be eh, and after visiting the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University, on the New Brunswick campus, the phrase really sinks in. Zimmerli has multiple collections in three galleries that are thought provoking, imaginative, and sometimes just plain simple. However, it is not just another academic building and people should not simply bypass it.
The institution was founded as the Rutgers University Art Gallery in 1966. The gallery was later renamed in 1983 as the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum due to the growing permanent art collection. Mrs. Zimmerli had two sons, Ralph and Alan Voorhees. They were considered two of the biggest supporters of the museum and therefore named it in their mother’s honor.
Some of the oldest pieces in the museum date all the way back to 700-500 BCE, the Late Chavin period. The entire museum contains 60,000 objects which are divided amongst the French Art of the 19th Century, Russian and Soviet Nonconformist Art, and American and European.
Now, the Zimmerli makes tours available every month on Family First Sundays, as well as during Art After Hours on First Tuesdays, which would be the first Sunday and first Tuesday of each month. Art After Hours gives a chance to students and those who work to stop by the museum later in the evening until 9pm. There are opportunities to meet artists and listen to live music while browsing the museum. Visitors can check the calendars and group tours can be arranged two weeks in advance. Please see the website zimmerlimuseum.rutgers.edu for further information.
The major exhibition through July 5 is Picturing War: Selections from the Zimmerli Art Museum Collection. There are many other exhibitions that will also be on display, such as Through the Looking Glass: Hyperrealism in the Soviet Union, and George Segal in Black and White: Photographs by Donald Lokuta (a new rotation of images begins on May 23rd.) Children also have time to venture into the gallery dedicated to original illustrations from children’s books.
The Russian and Soviet Nonconformist art really shows an interesting satirical and rebellious trend against the propaganda of Russian government under Joseph Stalin’s rule. Interestingly enough, this Hyperrealism collection was smuggled out of Russia by Norton Dodge and later donated to the museum. It is really a collection worth seeing and gives creative insight to the comparison between the official style of Social Realism and nonconformist art during the time period.
A current junior Rutgers student, Austin, works at Zimmerli and has a great interest in artwork, mentions that a lot of pieces, especially some of the Japonisme collection, “Really give off a sense of nostalgia,” in relation to the influence of cultures on art in different time periods.
It is truly amazing what art can say without even speaking or displaying words. It tends to touch people emotionally and really allows the imagination to take off in thought. Sometimes art is just “eh” to some people, but to each, their own, because that is their personal perception. The Zimmerli Art Museum has numerous pieces that truly allow you to be captivated by the expression of certain time periods. It is truly wonderful and should not go unseen.