Rutgers Appoints Art Historian Thomas Sokolowski as New Director of Zimmerli Art Museum
Debasish “Deba” Dutta, chancellor of Rutgers University-New Brunswick, announced the appointment of the distinguished museum leader and art historian Thomas Sokolowski to serve as director of the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, widely recognized as one of the largest and most respected university-based museums in the United States. Sokolowski will officially begin his tenure on October 16, 2017, taking charge of the Zimmerli’s programs of exhibitions, scholarship and community outreach, and its uniquely important permanent collection.
Sokolowski brings to the Zimmerli more than 35 years of experience as a museum professional. From 1996 to 2010 he led the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh as its director, creating a strategic plan of operations, increasing the institution’s visibility on the national and international stage, and deploying the museum’s greatest strength – its incomparable collection of artworks by Andy Warhol – by curating exhibitions in 49 countries around the world, making these objects accessible to an estimated 9.3 million museumgoers and generating more than $30 million of earned revenue.
Prior to his tenure at the Andy Warhol Museum, Sokolowski served as chief curator at the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, VA (1982-84) and director of the Grey Art Gallery & Study Center at New York University (1984-96). He most recently advised museums, foundations, educational institutions and civic organizations as head of his own consulting firm. In other activities, he has been curator of the official United States Pavilion at the Venice Biennale (1986); has served on the faculties of New York University, the University of Minnesota, and Kent State University; and was the founder of Visual AIDS, the organization that established the December 1 “Day Without Art” commemoration of the AIDS crisis.
“The Zimmerli’s extensive collections illustrate Rutgers-New Brunswick’s commitment to academic excellence and to society as a whole, providing the public with a rich and varied learning opportunity to experience first-hand some of the world’s finest works of art,” Dutta said. “With Thomas Sokolowski’s leadership, vision and expertise, the Zimmerli is poised to achieve new prominence in the field of university art museums and among the outstanding cultural institutions in the regions of New York City and Philadelphia. Our entire community welcomes him with enthusiasm. We also extend our appreciation to Marti Mayo, who has done brilliant work in stewarding the Zimmerli as its interim director.”
Sokolowski said, “The Zimmerli is among the youngest of the major university-based art museums, having been established only in 1966, but it has rapidly emerged as one of the most active and vital, with strengths that are uniquely its own. It is both an honor and a thrill to be chosen to lead this exceptional institution, which seems to me to bring together all of the artistic, scholarly, educational and civic strands of my career. I look forward eagerly to beginning my work with the Zimmerli’s expert staff, and to collaborating with the vibrant Rutgers academic community.”
The Zimmerli Art Museum is currently presenting the exhibition Subjective Objective: A Century of Social Photography (through January 7, 2018), examining the shifting criteria for public belief in photographs as visual evidence of both social reality and the need for social change. Works in the exhibition are drawn from the Zimmerli’s holdings and from public and private collections. On October 14, the Zimmerli will open Commemorating the Russian Revolution, 1917/2017. It will be one of many exhibitions this fall organized on the centennial of the Bolshevik Revolution, but with the distinction of looking at the Revolution from the dissenting point of view of the nonconformist Soviet artists of the 1950s through the 1980s, as seen in selections from the Zimmerli’s world-renowned Norton and Nancy Dodge Collection.
ABOUT THE ZIMMERLI ART MUSEUM
The Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum is one of the largest and most distinguished university-based museums in the country. It collects, preserves, researches, and exhibits important works of art to provide the university community and regional, national, and international audiences with direct experience of the visual arts. Scholarly activities make art accessible through exhibitions, publications, and educational programs.
The Zimmerli houses more than 60,000 works of art, including the Dodge Collection, recognized as the world’s largest and most significant body of Soviet nonconformist art. The permanent collection also features particularly rich holdings in 19th-century French art, Russian art from icons to the avant-garde, and American art with notable holdings of prints. In addition, small groups of antiquities, Old Master paintings, art inspired by Japan, and original illustrations for children’s books provide representative examples of the museum’s research and teaching message at Rutgers.
The Zimmerli's operations, exhibitions, and programs are funded in part by Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and income from the Avenir Foundation Endowment, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Endowment, and the Voorhees Family Endowment, among others. Additional support comes from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, donors, members, and friends of the museum. Contributions from other corporations, foundations, and individuals, as well as earned income, also provide vital annual support for the Zimmerli’s operations and programs.
Admission is free. The museum is located at 71 Hamilton Street (at George Street) on the College Avenue Campus of Rutgers University in New Brunswick. The Zimmerli is a short walk from the NJ Transit train station in New Brunswick, midway between New York City and Philadelphia.
The Zimmerli Art Museum is open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m., and select first Tuesdays of the month, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. The museum is closed Mondays and major holidays, as well as the month of August.
PaparazZi Café is open Monday through Thursday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., with a variety of breakfast, lunch, and snack items. The café is closed weekends and major holidays, as well as the month of August.
For more information, visit the museum’s website www.zimmerlimuseum.rutgers.edu or call 848.932.7237.