Rutgers Makes History with Zimmerli Art Museum Gift

To Members of the Rutgers University–New Brunswick Community:

I am pleased to share the news that Rutgers University–New Brunswick and the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum have received the largest single gift in the history of Rutgers University—more than $34 million in original artworks from donor Nancy Ruyle Dodge. The gift is accompanied by a $10 million endowment from the Avenir Foundation for the artworks’ curation, research, and management.

In 1991, Mrs. Dodge and her husband Norton Dodge made a preliminary gift of 4,000 Soviet-era paintings, sculptures and other works to the Zimmerli Art Museum. To help care for and encourage the study of those works, the Avenir Foundation provided the museum with an initial grant in 2001.

Mrs. Dodge has now bequeathed the remainder of her collection, which includes more than 17,300 works of Soviet Nonconformist art. This outstanding collection establishes the Zimmerli as a global center for the exhibition and study of the most bold and daring works of art produced throughout Russia and the Soviet republics during a vitally important chapter of the 20th century.

These works represent virtually every medium, from paintings on canvas and panel to sculptures, works on paper, photographs, videos and artists’ books, and span the decades between Joseph Stalin’s death and the end of the Gorbachev era. They are an important resource for students and researchers of art history, political science and other fields who seek to understand how life, culture and creativity thrived during the Soviet regime. I urge you to see some of these works, which are on view at the Zimmerli in the exhibition Commemorating the Russian Revolution, 1917/2017.

As New Jersey’s land-grant university, Rutgers University–New Brunswick has a mandate to provide for excellence in education and research and to benefit society. This important gift, along with the recent appointment of Zimmerli Art Museum Director Thomas Sokolowski, shows that the arts are thriving here. Please join me in celebrating this exciting news.


Deba Dutta, Chancellor
Rutgers University–New Brunswick