Zimmerli Art Museum Opens New Exhibit
Although Rutgers’ recent inclusion in the Big Ten Conference is significant moment in Rutgers sports history, people have been celebrating sports and leisure for centuries before.
In honor of joining the Big Ten, the Zimmerli Art Museum on the College Avenue campus opened a new exhibit on Sept. 2 celebrating art from 19th century France that highlights the sports and recreation of that era.
They hope the inclusion of the new 19th-century French sports and recreation exhibit will also bring in more foot traffic to the museum.
Christine Giviskos, the organizer of the exhibit and the associate curator of European art at the Zimmerli, got the idea to put together a sports- and recreation-themed exhibit after Rutgers was admitted into the Big Ten Conference.
She got the works from other collections and was excited to combine the pieces.
“I really want to change the way people look at museums. I want it to be something people and students alike can enjoy without having to feel uncomfortable about being there. Instead, I want students to be able to comfortably visit and walk through whenever they have free time,” she said.
The exhibit consists of posters, advertisements and artwork pertaining to sports and recreation in France during the 19th century. Giviskos said the pieces cannot be left out for too long due to weather conditions, so they are rotated.
Giviskos said during this time in history, society spent more time at leisure than in previous years. People would walk around town, ride bikes and relax in cafés. Because art reflects the nature of the society, a most of the artwork portrayed the leisurely culture of the time.
The art depicted everything from bicycling and horseback riding to audience members surrounding a fencing match. Giviskos noted even though the times have changed, the way people think has not changed much.
Giviskos pointed out one of the more popular pieces in the collection, “Miss Lala at the Cirque Fernando,” a photo by an unidentified photographer. Edgar Degas painted Lala, a circus performer, later in her life.
Giviskos’ favorite is “Tournoi Franco-Italien” by Hermann-Paul, which depicts a fencing match and the audience who went to see it.
“People would dress up in their best suits for the matches. It was really important to culture at the time,” she said.
The exhibit coincides with a significant event in the museum’s history. It is now free for everyone to view the exhibits.
Giviskos said the museum hoped to see more traffic now that admission was free.
“Gaining more attendees is something we bring up at least once a month,” she said.
Many Zimmerli visitors are art students, but the administration wants to attract a wider range of visitors with this change. The Zimmerli has American and European art collections and a Soviet nonconformist collection.
“One of the characteristics that makes our museum special is the fact that in our collections, there [are] obscure pieces that nobody has ever seen before,” Giviskos said. “Of course, we are looking to get some bigger, well-known pieces to bring in more viewers.”
Justin Mamis, a first-time visitor, said the Zimmerli is a hidden gem.
“There are a lot of peculiar things that I have never seen before,” he said.
His wife, Susan Mamis, also enjoyed the museum.
“It’s so impressive that it is free. I hope that a lot of students will take advantage of something so wonderful that is so close,” she said.
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