Mellon Foundation Grant to the Zimmerli Art Museum

The museum’s Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Endowment Fund, established in 2002, supports experiential learning at the Zimmerli across the museum’s areas of collecting through innovative curriculum connections, special programs, and collaborations with faculty, staff, and students.  The most recent award in 2012 funds two graduate exhibition seminars organized with faculty in the Department of Art History.

During the next five years, this grant funds two graduate seminars in art history (with two e-books featuring research by the seminar students), two publications, two major exhibitions, two scholarly symposia and, each year during the grant cycle, two full-time summer internships for graduate students in the Department of Art History at Rutgers.

The first of these exhibition seminars, Not About Face: Identity and Appearance Past and Present, was co-taught in the spring of 2012 by Professor Susan Sidlauskas, Department of Art History, and Donna Gustafson, Andrew W. Mellon Liaison for Academic Programs and Curator at the Zimmerli.  A related e-book is available, and an exhibition called Striking Resemblance: The Changing Art of Portraiture, will open in January 2014.  The second graduate level exhibition seminar focusing on the Zimmerli’s photography collection will be a collaboration between Professor Andres Zervigon, Department of Art History and Donna Gustafson.  The seminar will be offered through the department in the fall of 2014, leading to a major exhibition, seminar and symposium.

The first exhibition seminar, Not About Face, focused on the subject of portraiture.  Students from the seminar participated in the research and planning of a future exhibition drawn from the museum’s collection, augmented by loans from public and private collections, top open in January 2014.  Paintings conservator Rustin Levinson Art Conservation Associates, and framer Evan Brownstein, of B. Beamesderfer Gallery, visited the class as guest lecturers to provide expert knowledge on preparation of objects for proper care and display.  Students also traveled to visit photographer Gary Schneider, whose portrait work over several decades has added new interest to the tradition of the photographic portrait. 

On May 2, 2012, the Museum and the Department of Art History hosted “De-Facing the Portrait: Graduate Student Colloquium” with guest speaker Sylvia Yount, Chief Curator and Louise B. and J. Harwood Cochrane Curator of American Art, Virginia Museum of Art.  Respondents included Gary Schneider, photographer and faculty member, Mason Gross School of the Arts; Charletta Ayers, ME, MPH, Associate Professor and Director, General OB/GYN, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Services, RWJMS; Thomas V. Papathomas, Busch Campus Dean, Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering and Director of the Laboratory of Vision Research; and Sylvia Yount.

Not About Face: Identity and Representation, Past and Present

Striking Resemblance: The Changing Art of Portraiture