Tom Sokolowski and curatorial students

Dear Rutgers–New Brunswick Faculty and Staff:

It is with a heavy heart that I share the news that Thomas Sokolowski, Director of the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, sadly passed away yesterday.

A distinguished museum leader and art historian, Tom joined the Rutgers community in the fall of 2017 with responsibilities for the museum’s exhibitions, scholarship and community outreach. Tom’s enthusiastic personality, sense of humor and—above all else—passion for the arts quickly became the essence of the museum.

Tom was a dynamic thinker whose intellect and knowledge of art history inspired the Zimmerli board and the associated Rutgers community. Under his ambitious leadership, the museum acquired many significant works of art, including, most recently, the collection of the former Jersey City Museum that features both contemporary and historic art that represents the importance of immigrant communities in the cultural life of New Jersey. An exhibition featuring highlights from this new acquisition will open in January 2021.

An esteemed member of the art community, Tom had a unique appreciation of university-based art museums and envisioned the Zimmerli museum as a centerpiece of our campus with the intention of welcoming students and faculty across all disciplines, alumni and the general public. Under his leadership, Study All Night became an annual signature event that welcomed students to interact and jointly experience the treasures of the Zimmerli. Similarly, Tom ensured that the museum remained an accessible venue that supported community engagement events and served as a beacon for ethnic and cultural programs hosted at Rutgers-New Brunswick. 

Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family, friends, colleagues and our community.

A memorial will be planned for a later date when we can gather and honor Tom’s legacy.


Christopher J. Molloy, Ph.D.

Chancellor, Rutgers University–New Brunswick