Jacksonville, Fla.— The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens is proud to announce its receipt of a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Challenge Grant totaling $500,000. “We are humbled to have such validation of the work happening at the Cummer Museum, with dozens of collaborators and partners, to make the power of the humanities accessible to all. This will help support our ability to provide more public programs like those we have presented over the past several years, which raised up narratives about history, race, suppression, and hope. This grant will allow us to continue to create powerful partnerships with the goal of creating a more beautiful, intellectually engaged, diverse community,” says Cummer Museum Director Hope McMath.
The purpose of this grant is to support the establishment of a program endowment at the Museum, which will extend and sustain humanities-based public programming connecting diverse audiences to a variety of themes explored through Museum exhibitions and initiatives. This will allow the Museum to build on initiatives like those related to recent exhibitions like A Commemoration of the Civil Rights Movement, One Family: Photographs by Vardi Kahana, and Whitfield Lovell: Deep River. The Museum is one of 15 recipients in the country and the only recipient in the state of Florida to have its proposal funded. This grant is a part of the NEH’s new Common Good initiative, designed to demonstrate the critical role humanities scholarship can play in our public life, and which seeks to bring the humanities into the public square and foster innovative ways to make scholarship relevant to contemporary issues.
“We see the possibilities for advancement within the arts and cultural community and believe an NEH Challenge Grant opportunity such as this is a key to long-term support for the success of our city’s humanities programming… We see the Museum’s plans for the endowment as a long-term benefit not only for Museum patrons, but it also speaks to the capacity of the Cummer Museum to weave enduring partnerships, public programming, and the ‘common good’ of humanities into the cultural fabric of our entire community,” states Barbara Gubbin, Jacksonville Public Library Director.
In order to receive the full amount of the Challenge Grant, the Museum must now raise $1.5 million in matching funds. The resulting $2 million will form an endowment to support humanities-based public programming at the Museum in perpetuity. The Humanities Program Endowment is vital to the Museum’s ability to sustain and expand quality programming. Through the establishment of this endowment, the Museum will be well-situated to have a greater impact on the Jacksonville community through the implementation of its long-term goals to enhance public programming, expand partnerships, deepen individual learning, and benefit the broader fields of art history and the humanities.
“The Cummer Museum is one of the most innovative and ambitious cultural institutions, one that consistently aims to create exhibitions and programming that attract diverse audiences and points of view. It has long sought to bridge different realms of experience and learning…by involving expertise from local universities, houses of worship, and civic organizations,” says David Areford, Associate Professor of Art History, University of Massachusetts, after spending time at the Museum as a guest curator and scholar.
This initiative is dedicated to connecting audiences to intellectually-rigorous explorations of art, historical, social, and civic issues, and the funding will help to support new and existing programs for the Museum, along with strengthening its commitment to access in the community, especially to those with disabilities. One of the founding principles of the Museum is that any good culture and any strong community believes in supporting the arts and humanities, and that one of the most powerful roles of the arts is to give a deeper understanding of our shared humanity.
“The Cummer Museum strives to transmit the profundity, joy, and humanity of the arts to the greater communities of Northeast Florida. In over fifty years of service to its constituents and stakeholders, the Museum is one of the great jewels of art and culture in our state,” says Dr. Debra Murphy, Chair of Art & Design, University of North Florida.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE HUMANITIES
Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: www.neh.gov.
NEH Challenge Grants support the long-term strength of humanities institutions and organizations by encouraging fund raising for permanent endowments and appropriate capital improvements. Awards in recent years have averaged between $200,000 and $500,000. Grantees must raise nonfederal donations of three times the offered NEH funds. Since the program’s inception in 1977, over 1,500 awards totaling over $486 million in federal dollars have leveraged more than $2 billion in nonfederal contributions to the humanities.