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The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens is committed to engage and inspire through the arts, gardens and education. A permanent collection of nearly 5,000 works of art on a riverfront campus offers more than 95,000 annual visitors a truly unique experience on the First Coast. Nationally recognized education programs serve adults and children of all abilities.

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November Garden Reconstruction Update



The upper tier of all three gardens reopened on November 11 –  the Museum’s 56th anniversary! Although the lower spaces must continue to stay closed, you will be able to visit the Cummer Oak and see Diana of the Hunt and some of our other sculptures.

After several weeks of hard work, we were finally able to finish debris removal following Hurricane Irma – resulting in 12 dumpsters full of lumber, a stand-up paddle board paddle, plant material, trash, and various other waste. We also came across several water moccasins.

During our cleanup efforts, we have also been able to have our onsite well repaired and power restored to the pump house, which allowed irrigation zones to be run for the first time since the storm. This is critically important as fresh water is needed to help lower the electrical conductivity (EC) of our soil. During the storm, the gardens were submerged under about four feet of brackish water from the St. Johns River, leaving behind salt deposits that affect plant health and ability for new plants to survive in the space. The first round of soil tests, completed immediately following Irma, showed that none of our gardens had plantable soil conditions. The second round showed some improvement, and we are now repeating these tests every other week, in conjunction with a heavy watering schedule to help flush the soils. It may take several months to see enough of an improvement to be able to start replanting.

The work of testing the soil is being done by the University of Florida, through the Duval County Extension Office. Did you know their lab provides free pH testing for any Jacksonville resident? They also have Master Gardener volunteers to answer plant and insect questions five days a week from 9 a.m. to noon and 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.

As we move forward, Museum staff is talking with partner gardens throughout the southeast who are currently or have previously experienced similar storm-related damage. We are also building a team of advisors who will work with us to plan the next steps of reconstruction, working toward a solid plan and timeline that we will share with you in the coming weeks and months.

In the meantime, we are thrilled to announce that beginning in January we are launching Inspired Palates: A Dinner Party SeriesThis three part, themed dinner series will support garden reconstruction. Choose from an Italian family-style feast, an posh English-inspired pub crawl, or a swanky Southampton soirée, or purchase tickets for the series.

Thank you as always for your support of the Cummer Museum and your patience as we work to recover from Hurricane Irma.

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October is Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month



October marks Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month in museums and cultural institutions around the world. As part of its ongoing effort to raise awareness of disability, accessibility, and inclusion, the Museum displays its annual exhibition of artwork from the Women of Vision program during this month. Installed in the Museum’s Art Connections area, the show is open to the public and features works of printmaking, ceramics, painting, and sculpture.

The Museum’s Art Beyond Sight programs provide specially-designed art education and art-making experiences for individuals who are visually impaired including: touch tours of the Museum; classroom outreach to the Florida School for the Deaf & Blind; and the Women of Vision program, a group that has made the Museum their meeting place for the past 18 years.

The Women of Vision program represents an exceptional group of women and celebrates the communicative power and beauty of the visual and literary arts. During monthly visits to the Museum, the program’s participants record their memoirs, write expressive poetry, explore the gardens and galleries, and create art using paint, clay, collage, and printmaking. This artful program serves as a vehicle for personal reflections, a symbol for the transformative nature of art, and a model of accessibility for the community.

The Cummer Museum also provides guided Touch Tours to visitors who are blind or have low-vision. During Touch Tours, visitors are permitted to handle pre-selected works of sculpture from the Museum’s permanent collection while wearing latex gloves. These tours are led by Museum Educators who also provide verbal description of objects and surroundings.

The most recent Touch Tour at the Museum welcomed 33 individuals from the Jacksonville chapter of the National Federation of the Blind. Participants on this tour exhibited authentic enthusiasm as they engaged with sculptural works in the galleries and botanical objects in the gardens. As one visitor excitedly told us, “They don’t let you do this in other museums!”

To schedule a Touch Tour or to request other accommodations, including ASL interpretation, please contact the Museum’s Accessibility Coordinator at 904.899.6002, or by email at  at least two weeks in advance of your visit. Standard tour rates apply.


Baptist Health
Mr. Michael DiAngelo in Memory of Susan A. DiAngelo
The W.W. & Eloise D. Gay Foundation
Johnson & Johnson Vision Care


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Celebrate the Environment at the 4th Annual Envirofest!




The 4th annual Envirofest is just around the corner! On Saturday, October 7, 2017, the Cummer Museum and Jacksonville’s Environmental Protection Board will host this free family-friendly event that seeks to cultivate curiosity, respect, and understanding of the Jacksonville community’s shared natural environment, and the plant and animal wildlife in and around the city’s neighborhoods.

This event offers learning opportunities that encourage individuals to better understand sustainable practices and their importance in conserving natural resources. Guests will enjoy live music from local musicians, interactive booths and projects from environmentally-conscious vendors, eco-friendly hands-on art activities, and the opportunity to watch local artists in action as they create artwork.

Envirofest will be jam-packed with fun for kids of all ages! Attendees can:

This free fun-filled day will surely be a unique educational experience that the entire family can enjoy.

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The Chef’s Canvas: Cafe L’Avenue, Paris



Photo by Agnes Lopez

Today’s recipe from “The Chef’s Canvas” is a delectable dessert inspired by Cafe L’Avenue, Paris. Created by Sweet Theory Baking Co., this dessert is free of gluten, eggs, dairy, soy, and peanuts. But don’t let that fool you into thinking it is anything short of delicious!

Serves 10 – 12

Macerated Berries

3 cups mixed berries
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Juice of half a lemon
⅓ cup St. Germaine elderflower liqueur

Gently toss all ingredients in a large bowl. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Tart Shell

2 cups Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose gluten-free flour
½ cup sweet white rice flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
⅓ cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 vanilla bean, halved, seeds scraped
8 tablespoons coconut oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, sift together flours and xanthan gum. In another medium bowl, combine confectioner’s sugar, salt, vanilla bean seeds, and coconut oil. Add the flour mixture to the oil mixture in two batches, until a soft dough forms.

Drop the dough into a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and carefully press into the pan, trying to keep the dough as thin and evenly distributed as possible, particularly around the scalloped edges. Shave off any excess dough with a knife. Cover the pan and refrigerate for 10 to 15 minutes.

Once chilled, prick the shell with a fork all around the bottom and bake for 16 to 20 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool while you prepare the filling.

Espresso Chocolate Filling

2 cans full fat coconut milk
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate
3 tablespoons coconut oil
⅓ cup agave nectar
2 tablespoons espresso
⅛ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon fleur de sel, for garnish

Scrape the thick, white cream layer off the top of the two cans of coconut milk (Do not shake your coconut milk cans!), leaving the liquid behind. Set aside.

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate until completely smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the coconut cream, coconut oil, agave nectar, espresso, and sea salt. Pour into cooled tart shell, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours until completely set. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Lavender Caramel

¾ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup water
¼ cup agave nectar
1 ½ teaspoons lavender
2 tablespoons soy free Earth Balance butter
½ cup plain coconut creamer
¼ teaspoon sea salt

In a medium saucepan on medium-high heat, combine the sugar, water, and agave nectar. Heat until the sugar dissolves, then increase heat to high to bring the mixture to a boil. Boil until caramel is a medium amber brown color, around 5 to 7 minutes.

Remove from heat and add in lavender, Earth Balance, and coconut creamer, whisking quickly to combine. Allow caramel to sit for 15 minutes, then strain out the lavender buds.

Bourbon Vanilla Bean Coconut Cream

2 cans full fat coconut milk, chilled
⅓ cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 vanilla bean, halved, seeds scraped

Place cans of coconut milk in the refrigerator 6 hours or overnight to chill. Once cold, scrape off the top, thickened cream, leaving the liquid behind.

In a chilled metal bowl, beat together the coconut cream, sugar, and vanilla bean seeds with a hand mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

To serve:

Remove tart from the refrigerator and garnish with fleur de sel. Carefully portion out and cut the tart, serving it with the macerated berries, bourbon vanilla coconut cream, and lavender caramel.

Richard Emile Miller
American, 1875 – 1943
Café L’Avenue, Paris
c. 1906 – 1910
Oil on canvas
Purchased with funds from the Cummer Council

Richard Emile Miller was one of an American group of expatriate artists who settled in Giverny, France to be close to Claude Monet and a part of the Impressionistic movement. Although it wasn’t popular with Americans initially, Impressionism soon became an accepted artistic style and modern way to represent life. Café L’Avenue, Paris depicts a lively café, and the rich brushstrokes mimic the energy of the painting’s subjects.

“Early 20th-century Paris is easily one of the most intriguing and inspiring periods in history to me. The café scene Miller painted perfectly embodies all the opulence and glamour of pre-war Paris: civility and elegance the overwhelming theme on the inside, while I imagine the streets outside abuzz with a more ‘la boheme’ philosophy, courtesy of the influx of artists residing in Montmartre. The clash of traditional and unorthodox has been prevalent throughout my life, and perfectly embodies what I aimed to achieve in this dish. Miller’s love for Paris is undeniable in this piece. I wanted to mirror that adoration with an indulgent dessert highlighting a few of my favorite French-sourced ingredients, while being mindful of color and composition. The unconventional comes into play in an otherwise traditional-looking tart by way of ingredients. A tart sans butter? I hope the French can forgive me for my radical ways.” – Katie Riehm, owner of Sweet Theory Baking Company, on Cafe L’Avenue, Paris (c. 1906 – 1910)

“The Chef’s Canvas” is a cookbook created to honor the Museum’s permanent collection. The book is a treasure trove of artistic masterpieces, from the Museum’s galleries to kitchens throughout the diverse food scene in Jacksonville. This collaboration is like nothing the Museum has done before, and we look forward to sharing select recipes and the pieces of art that inspired them with you in The Chef’s Canvas Recipe Series.

“The Chef’s Canvas,” a work of art itself, was born of the idea that art fuels inspiration in all aspects of life, including in the kitchen. This unique collaboration allowed Jacksonville’s culinary experts to explore the collection and leave with the inspiration to create delicious, beautiful dishes, desserts, and cocktails. This series aims to give you a taste of Jacksonville’s culture, flavors, and artistry.

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Painting Conservation Efforts at the Cummer Museum



As part of the Museum’s commitment to preserve the permanent collection for future generations, conservation needs are assessed annually. Thanks to a donation from Jim and Joan Van Vleck, the Museum was able to undertake an assessment of the painting collection, treatment of four works, as well as the restoration of the English Garden’s center mosaic fountain by the the Museum’s object conservator.

While at the Museum in May, Rustin Levenson, the painting conservator, did a variety of work including evaluating environmental controls, measuring light levels, assessing paintings in the Museum’s collection, and treating those requiring immediate attention. This type of detailed assessment is vital to the Museum as it plans for the future, prioritizes funding, and communicates with donors.

One of the paintings that was restored Levenson in her studio. Paul King (American, 1867 – 1947), Along the Strand, c. 1900, oil on canvas, 32 x 40 in., Bequest of Ninah M. H. Cummer, C.0.160.1.

Along the Strand, the first painting acquired by Mrs. Cummer, was transported to Levenson’s studio for treatment to address its discolored varnish, surface grime, and abrasions. The Kitchen at Mount Vernon had an area of lifting paint and evidence of cleaning damage to original glazes from a previous restoration, both of which were worked on during its treatment.

Eastman Johnson (American, 1824 – 1906), The Kitchen at Mount Vernon, c. 1857, oil on panel, 12 ½ x 20 ½ in., Bequest of Ninah M. H. Cummer, C.0.117.1.


Carl Ruthart (German, 1630 – 1703), David Called from His Flock, c. 1672, oil on canvas, 38 ½ x 65 in., Museum Purchase, AP.1962.2.1.

David Called from His Flock required extensive treatment due to paint chipping and loss. In addition, this painting’s frame dates to the early 1800s and will be restored to its original beauty by a frame restorer, who was also involved in the conservation repairs. A fourth painting, Robert Henri’s Guide to Croaghan (Brien O’Malley), was determined to need further conservation, and many more works were identified as candidates for future conservation projects.

Levenson didn’t just carry out the act of conservation; she also spoke to the Board of Trustees about what conservation is and why it is important. Conservation is, and always will be, an ongoing project. There will always be a list of pieces that would benefit from treatment, which is only made possible by generous donors.

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Ink, Silk, and Gold: The Modern Age



Ink, Silk, and Gold: Islamic Treasures from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, on display through September 3, 2017, features masterpieces of Islamic art spanning centuries, media, and Islamic tradition. The exhibition features more than 50 items and panels of text, giving the viewer an engrossing background on Islamic history. This is part of a series of blogs that will give you context to the items in the exhibition.

Until recently, it has been believed that the production of Islamic art ceased around the year 1800; it has become apparent that it has continued to evolve into the 19th century and the modern age, with contemporary artists making connections to Islamic artistic traditions.

The 19th Century

Though the Ottoman Empire lasted until the early 20th century, the 18th and 19th centuries saw the weakening of the Ottoman dynasty’s power. As movements for Turkish nationalism emerged, the powers of the Mughals in India also declined, and the dynasty’s end came in 1858 when the subcontinent was absorbed into the British empire.

Although early modern empires influenced artistic production, increased contact with the West brought trends from Europe that inspired artists to explore new techniques and media.

Modern and Contemporary Art

The great political and societal upheavals of earlier centuries had a dramatic impact on Islamic art, leading to new forms of art and forums of production, exchange, and appreciation. In the 1900s, Middle Eastern artists adapted to a whirlwind of change that included the end of European colonialism and the birth of many nations.

Many artists with roots in the Islamic world cultivated responses to these changes by developing forms of abstract and modern art, while commenting on Islamic arts of the past. Some artists who personally identify with the Islamic world choose to work with styles, techniques, and subjects who have little to do with Islamic art, but are international. Others use international styles or artistic traditions from their region of origin.

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