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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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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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7 Reasons Your Teen Should Join the Junior Docent Program



Seven is a cardinal number expressing amount. Seven is a prime number, divisible only by one and itself. Seven is the number of days in a week, the number of major bridges to cross in the city of Jacksonville. It is seven melodic notes to the diatonic scale, and the seven vibrant colors of the rainbow. Seven is ‘Lucky Seven’, a number of completeness, security, safety, and rest.

Seven is the number of years that a student travels from the beginning of the 6th grade to completion of the 12th grade. And seven is the number of years that a student may safely mature and develop creatively, discovering art, gardens, and themselves, make friends, establish contacts, and build relationships with family and community in the Junior Docent Program at the Cummer Museum.

Why should teens participate in the Junior Docent Program? Here are seven reasons:

1. ART EDUCATION: The program enhances each participant’s appreciation of the arts and their ability to communicate that awareness. They learn skills in the practical use of art styles and develop their use of different art mediums.

2. LIFE SKILL DEVELOPMENT: The program offers students learning experiences that promote understanding, confidence, responsibility, and creativity. It employs a variety of art forms and educational processes that promote character building and leadership skills. 

3. COMMUNITY SERVICE: Students will each perform at least 20 hours of service per year for the Museum and the community by volunteering for public programs, exhibition openings, and behind-the-scenes work. In performing these service hours, the students’ participation in special events and programs develops their skills in working with the public and enhances their understanding of the many staff roles at the Museum. Over the years, Junior Docents have impacted thousands of individuals through their service, while learning to focus not only on their own success, but to contribute to their communities in meaningful ways.

4. EXHIBITION DESIGN: Each year a topic is chosen, and the students are guided through the process of creating an exhibition featuring their own artwork and descriptive labels. Students are supplied with the tools they need to research the year’s topic, instructed in an art medium to create their work of art, and given a platform to discuss what they have learned with other students, adults, and the community at large.

5. MULTI-GENERATIONAL LEARNING: Students in the program range in age from 6th to 12th grade, and take on different leadership and team building roles as they progress through the program, including the Teen Council which empowers older participants to guide and develop younger students through mentorship, organizing team efforts, and guiding others. In addition to working with a diverse group of fellow students, they will also learn to speak and work with people of all ages and backgrounds. 

6. SUPPORTS TRADITIONAL EDUCATION: Guided research, visual representation, writing, problem solving, and public presentations all build on the visual, verbal, and written skills students learn in school. Lectures and instruction from Museum staff and guest lecturers dive deep into selected topics and support State and County standards in critical appreciation, research methods, creative expression, and social processes. 

7. A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE: The experiences students will have in this program are truly like no other. The program strives to go beyond the traditional classroom by presenting unique opportunities in the visual arts and the natural world. The goal of the program is to provide an intellectual challenge for the participants, as well as a safe space to express their ideas, make ‘mistakes’, use trial and error, and employ their critical thinking abilities.

August marks the shifting of energies to return to school, and it is the time to apply to become a Junior Docent. Starting in September and continuing through April, Junior Docents attend regular meetings on Tuesday nights at the Museum. The program is open to all interested students in the 6th through 12th grades.

For more information, please contact

The Junior Docent Program is funded through a Lifelong Learning Initiative grant from the Woodcock Foundation for the Appreciation of the Arts and by Wells Fargo.

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Ink, Silk, and Gold: The Regions



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 exhibitionIslamic art developed within singular regions, widening its scope and nature. The exhibition presents objects from many different regions, including the ones below.

Egypt and Syria

In the cities of Cairo, Aleppo, and Damascus, architecture and art flourished under the patronage of Mamluk rulers (1250 – 1517) made rich by trade. Elaborate lamps, pulpits, and stands holding Qur’an manuscripts were present in mosques and tombs. Many ornate objects made from brass heavily inlaid with silver and copper, were used at court. These objects often carried the titles and emblems of their noble and royal sponsors as patronage of the arts was an important way to assert and reinforce personal status.


Spain, Italy, and North Africa

Islamic Spain was linked to southern Italy, the Middle East, and North Africa by a rich, blossoming network of diplomatic, mercantile, and the occasional military relations across the Mediterranean. Some aspects of Islamic culture became a shared heritage among the Muslim, Christian, and Jewish inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula, as they were continually engaged in economic and political interactions. Silks from al-Andalus are among the products highly valued by the Christians and many ended up in tombs and church treasuries.

Iran and Central Asia

The Ilkhanid dynasty, founded in 1256, ruled Iran, Iraq, and parts of Anatolia and the Caucasus, and lasted until 1335. Another Turkish dynasty, the Timurids, established rule over Iran and Central Asia from the end of the 14th century until 1506. Luster ceramics and inlaid metal work were artistic innovations borne of the Turko-Persian kingdoms. However, the most significant artistic development from that time was the widespread adoption of paper that revolutionized the art of the book.

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Ink, Silk, and Gold: The Great Empires



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

From the 16th to the 18th centuries, the Islamic world was ruled by three great empires. Though these empires experienced times of conflict, they were continually engaged in mercantile and diplomatic interactions with one another.

The Safavid Empire

The Safavid dynasty ruled Iran and the surrounding regions from 1501 to 1726. Nearly all members of the Safavid dynasty were financial supporters of workshops featuring skilled artists. Silk textiles produced in the empire were exported to Europe, which led to conflict with the Ottoman Empire, who aimed to control the silk trade. Artists used silk to create carpets with elaborate patterns. The art of the book flourished in the region as more artists began producing single-page drawings and paintings in unique personal styles.

The Ottoman Empire

Although the Ottoman Empire was established at the end of the 13th century, it did not rise to the status of world power until its conquest of Constantinople in 1453, which marked the end of the Byzantine Empire. At its highest point the empire ruled a territory that reached from Budapest to Baghdad and from Tabriz to Tunis, and included the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina. The Ottoman territory was located at the crossroads of trade between Asia and Europe.

The elite supported flourishing textile and ceramic industries, as well as architectural projects. Textiles were featured in Ottoman court culture as banners, wall hangings, floor coverings, and as clothing worn by rulers and courtiers. The town of Iznik, also known by its ancient name Nicaea, produced the ceramics that were abundant in elite circles. These ceramics first appeared as imitations of Chinese porcelains and then later bore distinctive Ottoman motifs and colors.

The Mughal Empire

Based in Kabul, a Mughal ruler conquered India in the early 16th century and his successors soon came to rule nearly all of the subcontinent via military tactics and inclusive policies of administration. The Mughal ruler followed the Sunni branch of Islam and oversaw a kingdom of mostly Hindus for two centuries, which resulted in the fusion of Hindu and Muslim cultures into one unique imperial culture. Extensive contact with Europeans also contributed to the rich culture of the Mughal Empire.

The Mughals were great patrons of the arts of the book, the copying of Persian as well as Hindu texts and creating a style of Persian, pre-Islamic Indian, and European painting illustrations. Important works of art from the Mughal Empire also include floral and figural carpets and textiles used to embellish palaces, and portraits of rulers and the elites of the empire.

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