Located on the campus of Rutgers University, the Zimmerli Art Museum is one of the largest and most well-respected university museums in the United States. It features a collection of over 60,000 pieces ranging from ancient times to today. The collection is particularly strong in 19th century French art, Russian and Soviet Nonconformist art (the largest such collection in the world), and American and European works on paper (these include prints, photographs, drawings, and rare books). The museum was founded in 1966 as the Rutgers University Art Gallery in celebration of the school's bicentennial. In 1983 the museum expanded and given its current name thanks to a gift by Ralph and Allan Voorhees in honor of their mother, Jane Zimmerli.
After its establishment in 1966, the permanent collection of
the Rutgers Art Gallery grew, necessitating a more substantial museum space by
1983. Ralph and Alan Voorhees donated substantially toward the expansion of the
addition, named the Zimmerli Art Museum in their mother's honor, which holds
60,000 objects in its collections today.
The Zimmerli presents two large, theme-based annual
exhibitions, often highlighting women artists; a series of cameo exhibitions
from its permanent collections; and focused presentations such as Japanese art,
American children's book illustrations, ancient Greek and Roman art. The museum
also hosts drawing classes, lectures, family activities, summer art camps,
teacher training programs, and concerts.
The Zimmerli collection of American art ranges from eighteenth-century
paintings to contemporary sociopolitical artworks, with a focus on women artists
in honor of Rutgers' pioneering role in women's studies . Many
of the early portraits depict Revolutionary figures, notable residents of New
Jersey, and figures associated with Rutgers history. Nineteenth-century
landscapes, American surrealism, and modern abstract paintings are also
featured, as well as figurative and abstract sculpture, engravings and
woodcuts, prints, illustrations, and photographs. American decorative art in
the collection includes art nouveau Tiffany lamps and a 1903 Frank Lloyd Wright
art in the Zimmerli collection dates from the Renaissance to the present, and
is particularly strong in French nineteenth-century prints and rare books. The
Zimmerli holds Italian Renaissance paintings, Dutch and Italian paintings of
the seventeenth century, and English and French nineteenth and twentieth-century
paintings including Monet's portrait of his father. Also included are
Japonisme, created by European artists of the nineteenth century who were inspired
by Japanese aesthetics, as well as Japanese woodcuts and Meiji-era photographs.
European sculpture includes the only complete set in America of terra cotta busts,
Honoré Daumier’s Celebrities of the Juste Milieu; as well as a small
collection of ancient Greek and Roman art. One of the best collections in the
United States of nineteenth-century color lithographic posters can be found at
the Zimmerli, along with vintage European photographs, Parisian rare books and
journals, and art nouveau decorative objects in glass, ceramic, and metal.
museum's holdings of 22,000 Russian and Soviet artworks include the largest
collection in the world of Soviet nonconformist art. From fourteenth-century Russian
Orthodox icons to modern-day works, the collection includes eighteenth and nineteenth-century
portraits and lubki (folk prints), expressionist
and abstract art, bronze sculpture, stage sets and costumes designs, movie and
propaganda posters, nonconformist art ranging from a diverse array of media
including video and photography, artist-designed books and book covers, and
decorative objects such as hand-painted ceramics.