Jersey City Art Collection Finds New Home at the Zimmerli
Three Exhibitions Explore More Than a Century of the City’s Impact on the Art World
New Brunswick, NJ – In 2018, the collection of the Jersey City Museum was gifted to the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University–New Brunswick, where it is being unveiled this fall.
Founded in 1901, the Jersey City Museum was located in the Jersey City Public Library for its first century. The collection developed with historical objects and art relevant to the region. By the mid-1970s, the staff began to focus on collecting and exhibiting living artists – both emerging & well-known – at a time when the practice was not as widespread as it is today.
The museum championed such artists as Emma Amos, Chakaia Booker, Mel Edwards, Raphael Montañez Ortiz, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith and Juan Sánchez. In addition to highlighting contemporary art, the museum engaged children and adults through innovative public programs.
After the Jersey City Museum closed in 2012, its board of trustees sought to transfer the collection to another institution in the state. In 2018, the collection was gifted to the Zimmerli, where it expands the scope and strength of the museum’s Art of the Americas collection.
American Stories: Gifts from the Jersey City Museum Collection, which opens Sept. 1, features nearly 100 paintings, works on paper and sculptures. It provides an inclusive view of American art and life through a local lens. The exhibition explores urbanization and identity through such themes as immigration, landscapes and cityscapes, labor, spirituality and politics.
Two other exhibitions feature historical views of Hudson County and the Jersey City area: Picturing Jersey City: Nineteenth-Century Views by August Will and “Beauty Among the Ordinary Things”: The Photographs of William Armbruster. Both Will (1834-1910) and Armbruster (1865-1955) were important in the formative years of the Jersey City Museum.
American Stories: Gifts from the Jersey City Museum Collection, on view Sept. 1 to Dec. 30, is organized by Donna Gustafson, chief curator; Christine Giviskos, curator of prints and drawings and European art; and Nicole Simpson, associate curator of prints and drawings; in collaboration with the Public History Program in the History Department at Rutgers-New Brunswick.
Picturing Jersey City: Nineteenth-Century Views by August Will, on view Sept. 28 to Dec. 30, is organized by Nicole Simpson, Associate Curator of Prints and Drawings. “Beauty Among the Ordinary Things”: The Photographs of William Armbruster, on view Sept. 1 to Dec. 30, is organized by Austin Losada, Andrew W. Mellon Post-Graduate Intern, 2019-2021.
American Stories exhibition support is provided by the Art Dealers Association of America Foundation, Mark Pomerantz (GSNB ‘76), Voorhees Family Endowment, Glenn Noland (RC ‘70) and donors to the Zimmerli’s Major Exhibitions Fund: Kathrin and James Bergin, Joyce and Alvin Glasgold, Sundaa and Randy Jones, and Heena and Hemanshu Pandya.