It is with surprise and sorrow that I write to let you know that Hope McMath has informed the Board of Trustees of the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens of her decision to step down as its Director. She will work with the Board for an extended period to ensure a successful transition.
Hope expressed a great deal of passion and pride for her work over the past 22 years at the Cummer Museum. We share these feelings. She began in the Education department, became Director of Education, Deputy Director of the Museum, and was named Director in 2009. The accomplishments during her tenure have been substantial. Attendance has increased 58% during her tenure as Director, tens of thousands of citizens have enjoyed free access through a variety of programs including Weaver First Saturday Free For All, collaborations have been formed, and important works have been added to our Permanent Collection. Under Hope’s leadership we developed countless programs such as the award winning Very Special Arts Festival which focuses on providing experiences and access for children with disabilities. We embarked on successful fundraising efforts for capital projects such as the renovation of the Museum’s Art Connections space for children, re-development of the historic Olmsted Garden, and the Museum’s landscape beautification program which created a street-side sculpture garden on Riverside Avenue. She was also instrumental in bringing key programs such as One In Three: Let’s Solve our Dropout Crisis, a photography exhibition presented in conjunction with the Jacksonville Public Education Fund and LIFT: Contemporary Expressions of the African American Experience to the Museum. Our collective accomplishments during Hope’s time at the Museum position us well for the future.
Continuity of leadership of the Museum is of critical importance to the Board. In accordance with our previously established succession plan, Chief Curator Holly Keris has willingly assumed the additional responsibilities of Chief Operating Officer and will oversee the administration of the Museum. Over her 13-year tenure with the Cummer, Holly has proven her abilities through a broad range of artistic, programmatic, and management responsibilities. We are fortunate to have her and our many other talented and dedicated staff members. The Board will undertake an extensive search for a new Director.
Our programmatic work, collecting priorities, exhibition philosophy, and connection to nature will not change. Furthermore, our plans to replace the former Woman’s Club building will continue. Museums are special places with the ability to unite community. Diversity, inclusion, and access are at the center of our core values. The Cummer Museum belongs to everyone.
On behalf of the Board of Trustees, thank you for your continued support as we engage and inspire through the arts, gardens, and education. With your help, we will continue to ensure meaningful personal experiences for all.
Kindest personal regards,
Ryan A. Schwartz
Chairman of the Board