July 23, 2019 | 68° F

New Zimmerli Art Museum exhibit celebrates Rutgers 250 with interactive, digital art

Photo by Edwin Gano and Michelle Klejmont |

Launched on Nov. 10, “HereNow–Rutgers 250” is a part of Rutgers 250 year-long birthday celebration. The exhibition also recognizes the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum's upcoming 50th year of bringing innovative arts exhibitions and programs to the public, according to the Zimmerli's website.

The exhibition, “HereNow–Rutgers 250,” hosted by the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers, is interactive in that students, faculty, alumni and visitors are able to share and view photos of various experiences at Rutgers.

It is also celebrating the global Rutgers community, capturing the diversity of experiences at Rutgers and life across the New Brunswick, Camden and Newark campuses and also those around the world.

It will be the museum's first crowd-sourced initiative that offers a unique opportunity to connect with the diversity of the Rutgers community and to start shaping the next 250 years, said Marti Mayo, interim director of the Zimmerli.

“HereNow–Rutgers 250” invites the community to share photos that will be used to create a digital gallery, museum exhibition and a book, according to their website.

Mayo and Donna Gustafson, a curator of American art and director of Mellon Academic Programs, produced the project theme together.

The microsite and digital gallery was based loosely on two crowd-sourcing projects at the Carnegie Art Museum in Pittsburgh, said Stacy Smith, manager of publications and communications at the Zimmerli.

A team of multi-departmental Zimmerli staff members met weekly to move the concept forward, she said.

"The planning of 'HereNow–Rutgers 250' was truly a staff-wide collaboration, and we're excited that from this point the project becomes a University-wide (and beyond) collaboration because of its participatory focus,” Smith said.

This exhibit took a different route than the other ways the University is celebrating Rutgers 250.

“We were aware of the many other projects already in development that focused on the University's notable history, we thought it would be exciting and appropriate to focus on a different aspect — Rutgers here and now,” Smith said.

She hopes "HereNow–Rutgers 250" will both present a snapshot of the University as it is during the 250th anniversary year and serve as a historical document of this time for those looking back at the 2015-2016 school year in the future.

“The primary goal is to engage as much Rutgers participation as possible in order to present a clear and complete picture of ('HereNow–Rutgers 250') through the online gallery, museum exhibition and Fall 2016 publication,” she said.

She expects the range and diversity of Rutgers' academics, campus life, arts, athletics and global activities will be made visible through the project.

“There is much to reflect on and honor in Rutgers’ illustrious 250-year history. With ‘HereNow–Rutgers 250,’ we want to capture the experience of Rutgers today, and to share in the memories of the individuals who have made Rutgers home — whether for years or just a day,” Mayo said.

Gustafson wants everyone at Rutgers to send photographs of their personal Rutgers experience.

“This will be a snapshot of the University at an important moment in its history,” Gustafson said. “Rather than present images of the history of Rutgers, we want to look at Rutgers in the here and now and begin making the next 250 years of history.”

She does not know what will come from the exhibition but she is optimistic it will bring positive changes for Rutgers.

“I hope that the project will excite the Rutgers community and that they will send us brilliant photographs,” she said.

She also hopes that the exhibition will bring many new visitors to the Zimmerli.

“I hope that the project will fill the museum galleries with photographs and that students, faculty and staff will celebrate the diversity, energy, enthusiasm, fun, and seriousness of purpose that is part of a large, research university in the 21st century,” she said.

Margaret Klein, a School of Arts and Science sophomore, also encourages students to visit the Zimmerli more often.

The Zimmerli is a warm and inviting place for students and we are lucky to have a museum on campus, unlike many universities, Klein said.

“It is nice to see the gallery being open up to the community,” Klein said. “It shows they care about the experiences of students.”

Noa Halff

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