Kusakabe-Griffis Room Open on Fourth Sundays, Spotlights Rare Meiji Photographs

October 10, 2013

Exhibition of Historic Japanese Photographs Now on View

at Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers

New Brunswick, NJ – The Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University is pleased to announce that, beginning September 22, the Kusakabe-Griffis Room is open on the fourth Sunday every month from noon to 5 p.m. for visitors to view the exhibition “Meiji Photographs: A Historic Friendship between Japan and Rutgers.” These rare albumen prints, all from the Zimmerli’s permanent collection, were taken by European and Japanese photographers during the Meiji period (1868-1912), which is considered the beginning of the modern era in Japan. On view through July 31, 2014, “Meiji Photographs” is free with museum admission.

“Meiji Photographs” presents a selection of studio and site-specific photographs by such important figures as Felice Beato (1834-1907), an Italian-born British war photographer who established a studio in 1863, and his former assistant Kusakabe Kimbei (1841-1932). They worked in Yokohama, a major port for trade during the Meiji era and the first center of photography in Japan. In addition, ceramics from the Zimmerli’s renowned collection of Japonisme – an art style influenced by Japanese art, culture, and aesthetics that was popular in Europe during the late 19th century – are on display.

Rutgers also played a significant role in the era: one of the first Japanese citizens to study at and graduate from an American college attended the university. From 1867 to 1870, Kusakabe Tarô, a samurai from Fukui, attended Rutgers College. He earned an undergraduate degree in mathematics and was the first Japanese student admitted to the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. (He died of tuberculosis a few weeks before commencement and is buried in the Willow Grove Cemetery in New Brunswick.) His tutor and fellow student William Griffis then traveled to Japan in 1870, eventually becoming a professor at Rutgers, as well as an early Japan expert. Today, the William Eliot Griffis Collection, in the Special Collections and University Archives at Rutgers University Libraries, is a unique scholarly resource that includes photos, manuscripts, and other items. It documents the history of the first Japanese students who came to the United States to study at the time of Meiji Restoration (1868). In addition, New Brunswick maintains relationships with Fukui and Tsuruoka, Japan, through the Sister Cities International program.


The Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum houses more than 60,000 works of art, ranging from ancient to contemporary art. The permanent collection features particularly rich holdings in 19th-century French art; Russian art from icons to the avant-garde; Soviet nonconformist art from the Dodge Collection; and American art with notable holdings of prints. In addition, small groups of antiquities, old master paintings, as well as art inspired by Japan and original illustrations for children’s books, provide representative examples of the museum’s research and teaching message at Rutgers. One of the largest and most distinguished university-based art museums in the nation, the Zimmerli is located on the New Brunswick campus of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Established in 1766, Rutgers is America’s eighth oldest institution of higher learning and a premier public research university.


The Zimmerli’s operations, exhibitions, and programs are funded in part by Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and income from the Avenir Foundation Endowment, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Endowment, and the Voorhees Family Endowment, among others. Additional support comes from the New Jersey State Council of the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts; the Estate of Victoria J. Mastrobuono; and donors, members, and friends of the museum.


The Zimmerli Art Museum is located at 71 Hamilton Street at George Street on the College Avenue campus of Rutgers University in New Brunswick. The Zimmerli is a short walk from the NJ Transit train station in New Brunswick, midway between New York City and Philadelphia.


Museum hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m., and the first Wednesday of each month (except August), 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Z Café featuring the Food Architects is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with a variety of breakfast, lunch, and snack items. The museum is closed Mondays, major holidays, and the month of August.


Admission is $6 for adults; $5 for 65 and over; and free for museum members, children under 18, and Rutgers students, faculty, and staff (with ID). Admission is free on the first Sunday of every month. For more information, call 848.932.7237 or visit the museum’s website: www.zimmerlimuseum.rutgers.edu


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