NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—The Zimmerli Art Museum recently announced a new free admission policy for all museum attendees, allowing every visitor to view the full museum without paying an entry fee.
The museum officially implemented the new general admission program on September 2, coinciding with the fall Rutgers University semester and autumn museum season.
Prior to September 2, only Zimmerli Art Museum members and children under 18 were given free admission, along with Rutgers University students, faculty, alumni, and staff. Outside of membership and University visitors, general admission previously rested at $6 for adults, and $5 for senior citizens over 65.
The free admission policy was spearheaded by the museum’s Interim Director, Marti Mayo, who previously served as interim in 2008-2009, and recently returned this past April.
Mayo’s policy stems from her professional experience with free admission policies, after studying the philosophical and financial benefits of free admission over the years. During the 1970s, Mayo worked with a private museum in Washington D.C., which received a substantial donation from a philanthropic donor to support free admission.
For several months, the Washington museum utilized a free general admission policy, and quickly realized that voluntary donations from visitors exceeded the amount that entrance fees provided. Removing admission fees appealed to Mayo, and she found through first-hand experience that free admission policies were consistently much more beneficial for museums than mandatory admission.
“There’s something important here, I know there is,” Mayo said, “I’ve just watched it and followed it for years and years, and I’ve instituted free admission at two other places, and it’s worked out very, very well.”
Likewise, the policy change also introduces a philosophical shift to the Zimmerli’s membership system. Now, membership status provides a dual role: members support free admission for all, while also directly funding the museum’s exhibitions and programs.
“I think it will make every member more of a philanthropist,” she said.
“Because every member helps everybody come in free.” The free admission policy also represents a move towards inclusion for lower income families, who were previously unable to afford the constant high expenses of admission alongside parking in New Brunswick.
“Philosophically I'd say, for a very long time, I've been a believer in the removal of barriers for the audience,” she told New Brunswick Today.
“It’s still a barrier. And it might not be a barrier for all families, but it might be a barrier for some.”
However, by removing the payment barrier, Mayo suggests that the Zimmerli’s audience will expand across the state.
She also believes the free admission policy will encourage New Brunswick residents to visit the Zimmerli during their free time, and engage with the museum’s various seasonal events.
“I feel very strongly that we need to be more and more open to our community, and more and more open to all of our communities.” she explained.
Indeed, Mayo hopes the Zimmerli Art Museum can engage with the New Brunswick community as, “a friendly place, where people are comfortable, and they come to learn new things, enjoy things, and debate – or, hear debate, if you will… that you can’t hear in other places.”
“We can do things in a museum… that you just can’t do other places,” she explained. Originally founded in 1966, the Zimmerli Art Museum is a university-affiliated art museum dedicated to showcasing and displaying artwork from a variety of cultures, viewpoints, and perspectives.
The Zimmerli Art Museum was founded in 1966 as the Rutgers University Art Gallery to celebrate the university’s bicentennial.
The gallery was expanded in 1983 and renamed the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum in honor of the mother of Ralph and Alan Voorhees, the major benefactors for the museum’s expansion.
The Zimmerli Art Museum is one of the largest and most distinguished university-based museums in the country. The museum hosts 60,000 artifacts from European, American, and Russian artists.
It is home to a wide range of art covering including revered works of Nineteenth-century French art, Russian art and Soviet nonconformist, and American works from the pop art era.
The Zimmerli Art Museum also hosts "Art After Hours" the first Tuesday of every month, where visitors can attend exhibition tours and live music performances from 5pm to 9pm, with complimentary refreshments provided by the museum.
Generally the museum operates Tuesdays through Fridays: 10am to 4:30pm, Saturdays and Sundays: Noon to 5pm.
Tonight's show is an interesting change of pace with a wide variety of events. The schedule comprises of:
6pm / Exhibition Tour and Big Ten: Art
Christine Giviskos, Associate Curator of European Art, leads a tour of Sports and Recreation in France followed by the announcement of the third selection in the Big Ten: Art series.
6:30 to 8:30pm / Live Music
The Rutgers Afro-Caribbean Ensemble will perform a variety of Latin, Salsa, and Afro-Cuban styled selections.
7pm / Slide Jam
David Ambrose, who explores elements found in or on architectural facades, interiors, or floor plans in his pierced-paper paintings, and representatives from the NY-based art collective BroLab share slides of their recent artwork. An informal Q&A with audience members follows.
The museum offers"On November 4, unwind after classes or work with live music, a curator-led tour, the first Slide Jam, and complimentary refreshments throughout the evening." Admission is free to all, and also includes activities and refreshments. This is an excellent opportunity to support an array of diverse artists in the New Brunswick area.