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Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens

829 Riverside Avenue
Jacksonville, Florida

Phone: 904-356-6857 --

Statement of Purpose:

Antiquity through 20th century; early Meissen tableware; formal gardens.

The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens was founded in 1959, as a gift from Mrs. Ninah Cummer, an art collector, civic leader and active member of the Jacksonville community.

The museum began with Mrs. Cummer’s small collection of 60 pieces, which she began gathering on the couple’s second honeymoon.  Mrs. Cummer’s first piece was purchased in 1906 and created by Paul King.   

The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens is committed to engage and inspire through the arts, gardens and education.

Highlights & Collections:

After her death in 1958, Ninah Cummer bequeathed her 60 piece art collection, her gardens and her riverfront home to create an art museum. Today, that collection has reached nearly 5,000 works of art, making The Cummer the largest fine arts museum in Northeast Florida.

The 1.5 acres of historic gardens, set against the backdrop of the St. Johns River, serves as a beautiful center piece for all to enjoy. Visitors can walk under wisteria arbors or find an open bench to sit and enjoy the view of the magnificent Cummer Oak, which has a canopy of 175 feet, and is estimated to be between 150 to 200 years old.

The Cummer offers a collection of world-class art spanning from 2100 B.C.E. through the 21st century. This collection of fine art and antiques are featured in 10 different galleries throughout the Museum.  Works of art consist of American and European paintings, sculpture and photography from ancient, medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, 19th-century Impressionist and Modern Art.

Recently, The Cummer permanently reinstalled the “Ralph H. and Constance I. Wark Collection of Early Meissen Porcelain.” This collection, which hosts more than 700 pieces of Meissen Porcelain, is recognized as the most important collection in the United Stated and the third most important in the world.

Art Connections is the Museum’s nationally recognized interactive education center, engaging visitors of all ages by offering educational programs, classes, tours concerts, as well as community outreach to underserved audiences. Annually, more than 40,000 students visit Art Connections. The center, winner of the prestigious Museum Services Award, is the premiere art education facility of its kind in the United States.

Art Connections is the site of the VSA Arts Festival, a nationally recognized program, that provides hands-on art experiences and the chance to view original works of art to over 2,300 children with disabilities, ranging from mild to profound disabilities, over a four-day period and utilizes the time and talent of nearly 1,200 volunteers. Public school students from the surrounding five-counties Exceptional Education/Student Services (EESS) program rotate through eight art stops in the Museum's galleries and gardens to create hands-on art projects, view The Cummer's art collection, listen to live musicians and storytellers, and learn about art appreciation. The event permits all students to participate in the creative process at their individual level of ability.

The Cummer Gardens

In 1903, Ninah and Arthur Cummer started a garden in their backyard which ran along the north bank of the St. Johns River in Jacksonville, Florida. At that time, it involved seasonal bulbs planted throughout the woodland setting of trees and ground cover. Originally from the Northeast, Mrs. Cummer became more interested and started to experiment with plants that she found could thrive in the Florida climate.  The devotion to her garden was so contagious that the project eventually became a vocation for her husband as well.  The couple’s favorite gifts to one another became garden sculptures, ornaments, or rare plant specimens. As the Gardens grew over time, Mrs. Cummer became an advocate and resource for her friends and community on Florida gardening.  In 1922, she founded and became the first Chairperson of the Garden Club of Florida.  Now known as the Garden Club of Jacksonville, the association is the largest in the country.

By the late 1950s, her plan to create an art museum with a public garden was organized and implemented.  While the Cummers’ home was torn down to construct the present Museum, the Gardens that were so lovingly planted remain as an enduring legacy of the horticultural vision and talents of Mrs. Ninah Cummer.

The Upper Garden 

The view from The Upper Garden out to the St. Johns River that you see today from is the same view the Cummers enjoyed from their home. It is bordered by Agapanthus (Lily of the Nile), which at the time was a rare plant from Egypt and was one of the first gifts Mr. Cummer gave his new bride.

The Tea Garden is a historic spot in the Gardens, indeed. This is the site of many an afternoon tea party for Mrs. Cummer and her friends. This terrace area was where Mrs. Cummer shared her gardening expertise, and later evolved those gatherings into the first meeting of the Garden Club of Florida.  The garden is a wonderful shady spot to look out onto the lower garden and enjoy its blooms and fragrances.

The English Garden

Originally planted in 1910, the English Garden contains an outstanding display of Azaleas in early spring, followed by a spectrum of blooming annuals and perennials throughout the spring and summer months.  At one time, in her meticulous records, Mrs. Cummer noted having over 300 varieties of Azaleas in her gardens. Along the waterfront, magnificent Wisteria vines entwine on a curved arbor and create a cool place for peaceful contemplation in the breezes from the river.

Also located in The English Garden is the first ever private putting green in the state of Florida. As a gift to Mr. Cummer from his wife, this putting green’s view of the river is brilliantly fused with a magnificent view of the Jacksonville skyline as well as the beautiful San Marco community riverfront across the way. 

The Italian Garden 

In 1930, Mrs. Cummer traveled through Italy for a number of months. She most favored visiting the traditional eighteenth-century elegant villas and formal gardens of Florence. A concept inspired by the Villa Gamberaia made her decide to develop her own Italian Garden in Florida.  Still in its original design, commissioned by the well-known landscape architect, Ellen Biddle Shipman, the Italian Garden features a vine-covered “Gloriette” (archway), a garden shed, crisscrossed brick pathways, symmetrical reflecting pools and sculpted shrubbery. Completed in the summer of 2000, the Italian Garden has been renovated to its exact original design.

 The Great Cummer Oak Tree.   When the Cummers initiated developing their riverfront yard, it was originally a woodland setting filled with many Live Oak trees of various sizes.  As the Gardens slowly claimed space on the grounds, trees were removed to clear out areas for new plantings.  Over the years, one specimen grew to expand in width to over 100 feet in caliper, a height of an estimated 75 feet, and an incredible limb spread of over 185 feet. The trunk circumference is currently 221 inches. This awe-inspiring tree is estimated to be between 150-200 years old. The Great Oak tree is protected by braces, cables, and a lighting rod system.  It is the central feature and most prized possession of the Gardens and grows every year to participate in the nearby landscapes.   The tree offers shade to the south reflecting pool of the Italian Garden, a cool splash of color onto the Putting Green Garden, and an umbrella of screening in the Upper Garden.  The tree also has its own endowment which is used for yearly maintenance. Cummer Curator of the Gardens, Benoit Lapalme said, “The Great Cummer Oak is my living library in the gardens, providing me with so much knowledge of the past. It is a joy to be in its presence from day to day.”

All of the gardens at The Cummer have been made fully accessible.
For more information or to visit the museum, please call 356-6857.

Art Connections At the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens

Art Connections is the national award-winning educational center at the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens where art, science, technology and the imagination unite.  The center, winner of the prestigious Museum Services Award, is a premiere art education facility of its kind in the United States.

More than 50,000 students participate in educational activities annually.  Learning is hands-on  and interactive as students discover the history and beauty of the Cummer’s permanent collection.

Within the facility, viewers learn about concepts from color to perspective and enjoy the use of  computers, an the inter-disciplinary Sculpture Timeline and an electronic Studio of the Future that features Lightstrokes II, one of four hands-on painting computers in the world.

Art Connections offers classes, programs, tours and exhibits to art lovers of all ages.  Volunteer opportunities are also available.

The Docents are members of a volunteer program available to teach both students and adults as they guide tours through the museum.  Training is provided for docents as part of the Art Connections curriculum.

Art Connections houses two galleries, which hold traveling exhibitions. 

In Art Connections regularly scheduled programs take place each month and include such events as scavenger hunts, films, and Art in the Afternoon and Art Adventures, where children, students and adults can work in the studio, creating their own art.

Numerous classes are held for students, children and adults who wish to participate in book-making, sculpting, painting and more.  See the calendar for more information and scheduling details.

Art Connections is the site of the Very Special Arts, a program dedicated to bringing the arts to persons with disabilities.  Each year more than 2000 students participate in the Very Special Arts Festival which is held to honor and celebrate those artists and guests from the disabled community.  Both amateur and professional artists display their works for the entire community to enjoy.  The annual celebration recognizes these works with awards offered in various mediums including pottery, drawing and photography and more.

Exhibition Schedule

Spring 2011

Constance I. and Ralph H. Wark Collection of Early Meissen Porcelain.

May 13 through Permanent

More than three years of planning and research will culminate with a new reinstallation of the Wark Collection of Early Meissen Porcelain at The Cummer.  Recognized as the most important collection of Meissen in the United States, The Cummer’s collection will be accompanied by a new catalogue written by Meissen scholar Dr. Ulrich Pietsch, Director of the Porcelain Collection of the State Art Collection in Dresden, Germany.

On the Silk Road and the High Seas: Chinese Ceramics, Culture, and Commerce

May 13 through August 14, 2011

Drawn from the Doris and Leo Hodroff collection at the Norton Museum of Art, this exhibition tells the stories of why Chinese ceramics were so special at home and particularly abroad.  Since the second century BCE, the so-called “Silk Road” stretched thousands of miles from eastern China to the Black Sea, thus linking the great civilizations of east Asia with those of southwest Asia and, thereby, to Europe.  In later centuries the trade and cultural influences that flowed back and forth on land were transferred to the sea, and maritime shipping eventually came to dominate world commerce.  The superb examples of Chinese ceramics featured in this exhibition, considered to be one of the finest in the world, were rarities in the Western world until the mid-18th century.

 Summer 2011

New View: Interpretations of The Cummer Gardens 

Through October 1, 2011


Visual art students at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts were encouraged to create interpretations - or new views - of works of art and the natural landscape. The project began by visiting The Cummer where students were inspired to draw in the garden. In the galleries, they were challenged by the concepts of abstract paintings of William Kienbusch, Karl Knaths, Romare Bearden, Abraham Rattner, and J. Phillip Hultberg in The Cummer’s permanent collection.

 The garden drawings created by these ninth graders were then taken back to the school’s studio, where the students further developed them into finished drawings in a realistic and recognizable manner. Students then selected one or two of the art elements (line, shape, form, space, value, color, texture) to emphasize in a three part drawing progression - moving from realism to abstraction - resulting in beautifully diverse renditions of the natural environment.

The Neighborhood as Art: Celebrating the Riverside Avondale Area

June 14 through July 31, 2011

As part of The Cummer’s 50th Anniversary, the Museum is partnering with Riverside Avondale Preservation to celebrate our wonderful neighborhood, which was just named one of the American Planning Association’s 10 Great Neighborhoods in America for 2010. It is the first neighborhood in Florida to win this honor.

The Cummer is hosting a juried exhibition, which celebrates the art, architecture, people, parks, river, and landscape that make the Riverside-Avondale neighborhood great. Thirty-four selected works of art by local artists will be on display, including paintings, photographs, 3-dimensional works and video. Additionally, several of Riverside Avondale Preservation’s historic photos will be featured, which will provide a historical perspective of the neighborhood alongside the artists’ contemporary interpretations.

Artwork by the following artists is featured in the exhibition:

Megan Belcher, John Bunker, Ellen Diamond, Candace Fasano, Christina Foard, Jordan A. Foster, Mark Grandin, Thomas Hager, David Hansford, Taylor Hardwick, Dustin Harewood, Ted Head, Courtenay Hunt, Laura Karabinis, Laird, Carole King Mehrtens, David Montgomery, Joanelle Mulrain, Susan Ober, Sean Patterson, Janice Richardson, Pablo F. Rivera, Tony Rodrigues, Richard G. Skinner, Jr. MD, Lily Smith, Kathy Stark, Elizabeth Wassell, Allison Watson, Russ Wilson and Bill Yates.

One in Three: Solve our Dropout Crisis  

August 12 through December 20, 2011

Duval County has a serious dropout crisis.  With a graduation average of 66.6% our public schools are below the national average.  One in three public high school students fails to graduate in four years, and very few students go on to graduate after the fourth year.  The majority of dropouts leave after only two years of high school.  However, 60% of these students complete other programs after dropping out, demonstrating that they do want to obtain an education.  The good news is that national and local research proves that students at-risk of dropping out can be identified as early as 6th grade, before they disengage or fall significantly off-track.

This exhibition will feature images, photographed by Jacksonville artist Ingrid Damiani, chronicling the compelling challenges and successes of local students.  This exhibit will serve as an anchor for several campaign initiatives by spreading awareness of the dropout crisis, and by engaging and challenging the Jacksonville community to take action and work to solve the problem. Through use of photography and interviews, young people will be empowered to tell their stories, be it of challenge and struggle or overcoming and experiencing success. The stories will highlight a variety of factors that can contribute to student success, including but not limited to: caring adults, effective support programs, and school- based best practices.  In Partnership with Jacksonville Public Education, The Community Foundation in Jacksonville, WJCT, Brunet Garcia Advertising and PR, The Chartrand Foundation, The Cynthia G. Edelman Family Foundation Also, partnering in this campaign are members the Learning to Finish collaborative: Duval County Public Schools, United Way of Northeast Florida, and Jacksonville Children’s Commission.  Together we will awaken the community and work to solve the drop out crisis.   

Fall 2011

October 7, 2011 through January 2012: Eugene Savage: The Seminole Paintings

American artist Eugene Savage is best known today as a muralist.  However, in the 1930s he became enchanted with the Seminole Indian tribe and began to depict them in paintings and works on paper.  In 2007, The Cummer purchased more than 100 of these important works for its permanent collection. 

These paintings, drawings, and watercolors not only document the Seminole costume and tribal customs, they also are important works of art in their own right.  Each presents Seminole traditions, threatened by encroachment on the Everglades, in a very artistic manner reminiscent of Surrealist dreamscapes and Art Deco sensibilities.

 Spring 2012

December 15, 2011 through July 29, 2012: Japanese Woodblock Prints from the Hayes Collection

January 10 through July 8, 2012: Richard Chamberlain: The Year of the Sheep

January 31 through August 15, 2012: American Impressionist Works from the Permanent Collection

The Cummer’s American Impressionist collection comes together in the Jacobsen Gallery as a counterpoint to the exhibition of the High’s Collection, on display in the Mason Gallery.

Impressionism and Post Impressionism from the High Museum of Art

February 16 through May 6, 2012

A selection of the most important Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works from the High Museum of Art.

 This exhibition showcases almost 50 paintings, drawings, and prints by such renowned artists as Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Mary Cassatt, and John Singer Sargent.  The works in this exhibition illustrate the emergence of Impressionism in 1870s France, its evolution to Post-Impressionism, and its later influence on American artists.  

 The exhibition commences with works by such pre-Impressionist artists as Eugène Boudin to mark the initial transition from the traditional, academic paintings of the Paris Salon to the loose brushwork and airy landscapes that defined the Impressionist movement.  Paintings by Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, and Frédéric Bazille, the founders of Impressionism, illustrate this radical departure and further convey this movement’s fascination with light filled color and broken brushwork. 

 Despite its initial unpopularity with the public, Impressionism spread among artistic circles in France.  By the late 1880s, Impressionism produced various off-shoots that emerged in France that have been called Post-Impressionist.  This latter phase of Impressionism is represented by such artists as Paul Gauguin, Paul Cézanne, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Pierre Bonnard, and Edouard Vuillard.

Artists living abroad, such as John Singer Sargent and Mary Cassatt, were among the first American painters to adopt Impressionism.  By the end of the century, Impressionism and Post Impressionism became popular in continental America.  Paintings in the High’s collection by John Henry Twachtman, Childe Hassam, and Theodore Robinson reveal these artists’ indebtedness to the Impressionists and show the international appeal of Impressionism, a phenomenon that is still with us today. 


Tuesday: 10:00 am - 9:00 pm
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Saturday: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Sunday: 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm

Admission & Directions:

Free to Members
Adults: $10.00
Seniors, Military, Students: $6.00
College Students: Free with valid student ID Tuesday thru Friday
Children age 5 and under: Free

The Museum is located on Riverside Avenue in Jacksonville, Florida, on the north bank of the St. Johns River.

Traveling North on I-95, take exit #350A to Riverside Avenue. Continue on Riverside Avenue for approximately 1.2 miles. The museum will be on your left and parking will be on the right.

- or -

Traveling North on I-95, after crossing the Fuller Warren Bridge, take exit #351A to Park Street. At the end of the ramp, turn left onto Park Street. At the second traffic light, turn left onto Riverside Park. At the traffic light, turn right onto Riverside Avenue. The museum will be on your left and parking will be on the right.

Traveling South on I-95, as you approach Downtown stay in the left-center lane, following the I-95 South signs. After you pass "The Fork" (Interstate-10 goes off to the right), take the next exit from I-95 which is "Forest Street/Riverside Avenue." After you exit, go left at the first traffic light (Forest Street). Continue on Forest to the 3rd traffic light, which is Riverside Avenue, where you will turn right. Continue traveling approximately 0.8 miles. The museum will be on your left and parking will be on the right.

Traveling East on I-10, exit #362 to Stockton Street. Continue on Stockton Street until it dead-ends at Riverside Avenue. At the traffic light, turn left onto Riverside Avenue and continue traveling approximately 0.8 miles. The museum will be on your right and parking will be on the left.


Key Personnel:

Maarten van de Guchte, Director

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