The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens opened in 1961 in Jacksonville, Florida on the grounds where the residence of Arthur and Ninah Cummer once stood. Housed within several buildings from the twentieth century, the Cummer Museum's collection consists of more than six thousand pieces of artwork dating back from 2,100 B.C. to the twenty-first century. Among the art collection are American and European paintings, as well as an extensive collection of Meissen porcelain.
The museum grounds also contain three flower gardens, considered to be some of Northeast Florida's most significant and pleasant gardens, and opens onto the St. Johns River. These gardens feature rare plant specimens sheltered by the canopy of oak trees throughout the year. The Cummer Museum's outdoor space also displays fountains, reflecting pools, antique ornaments, sculptures, and arbors in addition to the many plants found throughout the gardens. All of these features assist in creating a unique outdoor spaces that serves as a perfect complement to the Permanent Collection at the museum.
The Cummer Museum's Permanent Collection has been the cornerstone of the museum's mission to act as the centerpiece of involvement and education in all of the arts in Northeast Florida throughout its history. Ninah Cummer, the museum's founder, sought for the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens to be a center of culture and beauty that benefits all people, and the museum acts in agreement with this desire.
Today, the museum's art collection has grown from over 60 works of art gifted by Ninah Cummer to almost 5,000 works of art. The Permanent Collection, spanning the time between 2,100 B.C. to the twenty-first century, includes masterworks by artists such as Norman Rockwell, Winslow Homer, Romare Bearden, Thomas Moran, and Peter Paul Rubens. The Cummer Museum also possesses the Wark Collection of Early Meissen Porcelain. Several sculptures of the Permanent Collection can be found throughout the museum's three gardens. There are also seven special collections among the museum's holdings which provide additional depth to particular characteristics of the museum's Permanent Collection.
Arthur and Ninah Cummer enlisted the help of Ossian Cole Simonds, landscape architect, in 1903 to create their initial estate garden plan after the construction of their Tudor-style home was completed. His initial plan complemented the majestic oak trees lining the riverfront of the estate with its naturalistic stretches of native shrubs and trees. These tree and shrub plantings served as the basis for development in later years. Arthur and Ninah Cummer then engaged nurserymen Thomas Meehan and Sons in 1910 when they decided it would be best to seek additional advice. The team produced the primary design structure that exists in the English Garden today.
The garden was a rectangular garden originally called the Wisteria Garden due to the stunning pergola with cypress beams that overlooks the St. Johns River. The garden featured exquisitely-laid brick paths interspersed with grass walks. Later, Ninah Cummer added azaleas to the garden and decided to rename the garden the Azalea Garden. The same garden space is now named the English Garden.
The Italian Garden is one of only a few still existing gardens created by Ellen Biddle Shipman, and is the most prized garden at the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens. The Italian Garden was designed in 1931 to be a premier display garden for Ninah Cummer's hundreds of azaleas and massive Italian marble garden ornament collection. Framing the view of the green, ficus-adorned gloriette are two long reflecting pools. The sight resembles that of the well-known water gardens in Tuscany at the Villa Gamberaia.
Upon the death of Ada Cummer in the early 1930's, Waldo and Clara Cummer inherited most of her estate. Part of the Olmsted Brothers firm, William Lyman Phillips was hired to integrate the new land into their already existing gardens. When both of the Cummer houses were demolished in the early 1960's in order to make room for a new building to serve as a museum housing the art collection of Ninah Cummer, the gardens were partially destroyed. In 1992, the Cummer Museum bought the property and fully restored it in 2013.
The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens finished a large, wide-spread landscape project in 2013 that resulted in the formation of the J. Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver Community Sculpture Garden. This garden, located just outside of the Art Connections building on the front lawn, showcases four pieces from the museum's Permanent Collection: Sea of the Ear Rings by Takashi Soga, Spirit of the Dance by William Zorach, Lovers by Archie Held, and Seventh Portrait of Kathleen by Sir Jacob Epstein. The Sculpture Garden also features a temporary exhibit every year in addition to the permanent art pieces.
The Cummer Museum's Art Connections is an interactive center designed to offer visitors the opportunity to learn more about and explore art with a different approach. The center's Picture Perfect activity area provides guests with the chance to create their own masterpiece by moving a large paintbrush through the air, meanwhile the painting is displayed on a large video screen. Behind the display, family and friends can watch and encourage the painters. Paintings can be printed out and visitors can take home their artwork.
The Creativity Timeline displays 40 feet of chronological timeline of art history spanning over 30,000 years. The timeline uses the Cummer Museum's collection as its core. Visitors have the opportunity to explore the relationship between art and technology, culture, and science from 35,000 B.C. through sight, sound, and touch at the interactive stations. In the Visions/Versions activity area guests view a drawing, a clay vase, a relief print, and an oil painting partnered with videos featuring the various artists discussing the techniques, tools, and inspirations associated with the media in which they work. These four different art pieces were inspired by the museum's gardens, and created by artists commissioned by the Cummer Museum. The exhibit is an excellent way for visitors to learn more about the creative process and how it differs between individuals.
Face to Face utilizes a touchscreen to offer guests a chance to create their own self-portraits. Theses self-portraits can be printed and taken home. The Cummer Museum also contains the Gallery Under Five within the Art Connections center, which is one of several exhibits tailored to children from 18 months to 5 years of age. The exhibit showcases are on a smaller scale so young children can explore the museum's art in a setting where it's easier for them to see, free from intimidating large objects.
The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens also provides a wide variety of classes for both children and adults. Children's workshops and classes offer young artists a chance to build skills, learn techniques, and gain new perspective so they can enjoy artistic expression throughout their lives. Adult guests of the Cummer Museum can take part in a number of different classes, including ones in Western art history, Western garden history, and acrylic painting.
The Cummer Museum offers camps for children up through middle school to learn more about art and have fun at the museum. Camp Cummer is a week-long art camp during the summer that provides children with a chance to immerse themselves into a week of fun and learning while they paint, draw, print, and work with clay. They will also learn different ways to talk and think about art in the galleries and gardens of the Cummer Museum.
The Middle School Camp Cummer provides middle school students with similar opportunities, such as techniques with clay, drawing, printmaking, and painting with inspiration from masterpieces in the Cummer Museum's gardens and galleries. The projects at the camp are tailored to intermediate and advanced art students who desire to improve their skills. The camp is also a chance for students to create an art portfolio.
There are a variety of ways for visitors to explore the Permanent Collection, exhibits, and gardens at the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens on their own, such as podcasts, the Art Highlights list, and complimentary guides. Several different tour guides are available at the museum's Front Desk and are complimentary to visitors. Among these guides are the Cummer Museum Garden Tour, Family Guide Garden Tour, The Royal Dish Gallery Guide, and The Royal Dish Family Guide.
The Cummer Museum Garden Tour guides visitors along twelve stop throughout the Cummer Gardens. The Royal Dish Gallery Guide provides information covering the museum's collection of Meissen Porcelain, including a short history of the porcelain production, a general glossary of the gallery's pieces, and a detailed explanation of the patterns used by the Meissen factory. The Family Guide Garden Tour is tailored to families using the guide together to explore the Cummer Museum's gardens. The Royal Dish Family Guide provides families a guide to use to explore the museum's Wark Collection of Early Meissen Porcelain together.
829 Riverside Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32204, website, Phone: 904-356-6857