Dreaming of Utopia: Roosevelt, New Jersey Exhibition at Morven opens Nov 14!

Debra Lampert-Rudman's picture
November 15, 2019 to May 10, 2020
New Jersey, United States
Subject Fields: 
American History / Studies, Historic Preservation, History Education, Local History
Dreaming of Utopia: Roosevelt, New Jersey

November 15, 2019–May 10, 2020
Opening Reception November 14 at 5:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Morven Museum & Garden explores the history and culture of Roosevelt, NJ from an experimental immigrant community in the 1930’s to present-day artist colony.  More than 100 objects from 25 collections are shown together for the first time in Dreaming of Utopia: Roosevelt, New Jersey, on view November 15, 2019 through May 10, 2020.

Working with the New Deal Resettlement Administration, Russian immigrant Benjamin Brown established the town, originally named Jersey Homesteads, in 1937. It was a community of Jewish garment workers who escaped city tenements to breath fresh air, farm the land, and operate a cooperatively-owned garment factory and shop.

Jersey Homesteads’ flat-roofed buildings, designed by architect Alfred Kastner with his assistant Louis Kahn, were built on half-acre lots that backed onto communal green spaces and woods. The emphasis on nature was inspired by the “Garden City” movement in which modern cities were designed around a central park. After the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945, the town was renamed in his honor. 

After the communal collaborative farm and factory failed, Roosevelt attracted artists who addressed issues still very much relevant today: civil rights, economic equality, immigration, labor issues and fair pay, the right to free speech, peace and justice.

Included in this exhibition, guest co-curated by Ilene Dube, are works by legendary artists Ben and Bernarda Bryson Shahn, Jacob Landau, Gregorio Prestopino, Liz Dauber, Rex Goreleigh, Louise and Edwin Rosskam, Sol Libsohn, David Stone Martin and his son, Stefan Martin, Robert Mueller, as well as contemporary artists Jonathan Shahn, Ani Rosskam, Bill Leech and many others.


Liza & Schuyler Morehouse
Lisa & Michael Ullmann
Rago Arts & Auction Center
Kalkin Family Foundation

This exhibition was made possible by a grant from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, a state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this exhibition do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or the New Jersey Council for the Humanities.

Morven Museum & Garden received a project grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State.

Contact Info: 

Debra Lampert-Rudman, M.Ed.
Curator of Education and Public Programs
Morven Museum & Garden
55 Stockton Street
Princeton, NJ 08534

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