Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens
You may not expect it, but the city of Jacksonville, Florida in the northeast corner of the state is home to a unique and pretty little museum called the Cummer. It is the largest fine arts museum in Northeast Florida, and is there are over 5,500 objects in their permanent collection. Most of the museum collection is made up of works by European masters and American impressionists, and there is also a world-famous collection of eighteenth century Meissen porcelain.
But the most unique thing about the Cummer is that the outside of the museum has over two and a half acres of gorgeous gardens that wind along the St. Johns River. The gardens are so lovely, that many people who go there say that even although the art collections are very good, the gardens are actually more impressive than the art. The gardens make the Cummer a totally unique museum to visit.
What to Expect
The Cummer Museum of Art is built on the land that originally was the home of Arthur and Ninah Cummer. Ninah Cummer had actually begun gardening in the early 1900s, and so the gardens are now very mature and beautiful. Ninah also collected art, and it was her relatively small collection of sixty pieces that were the first pieces in the museum. The Cummer museum opened in 1961 and now has a permanent collection of over 5,500 works of art from as early as 2000 BC to the present day.
The museum’s permanent collection has many American Impressionist paintings, as well as the eighteenth century Meissen porcelain collection, and eighteenth century Japanese woodblock prints. There are also interesting traveling exhibits, so you will want to check with the Cummer before you go in order to see what the newest attraction is. One of the more recent exhibits was one about the the science and beauty of medical illustrations. The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota has one of the largest collections of medical illustrations in the whole world, and the exhibit from the Mayo clinic visited the Cummer for several months. The exhibit looks at the important role that medical artists have in the medical field.
Additionally, the Cummer has a program called Art Connections. Art Connections is a education center that is nationally recognized, and it teaches visitors all about art. The center often has hands-on activities that introduce young kids to different types of art mediums, from clay to water pastels.
And of course, be sure not to miss the gardens! The museum is actually next to the St John’s River, so you can see a beautiful view as you gaze at the garden’s well manicured arches. There are both classic English as well as Italian gardens, and they are very old and mature. Many people find the gardens to be the most exciting part of the Cummer Museum.
Tips for Visiting
The Cummer offers a very unique combination of art, gardens, and education. When you go, make sure that you pick a day where the weather is nice so that you can really experience the gardens in all their glory. While you are in the gardens, make sure that you see the famous Cummer Oak. It is a huge, ancient live oak tree, that is is a popular object of photographs.
People who have an interest in landscape paintings, porcelain or Oriental art will enjoy the Cummer the most. If you do not have a specific interest in any of these things, then you may not find the museum part of the Cummer that interesting, but everyone always loves the gardens.
The Museum is closed on Mondays, so make sure that you do not go on a Monday! Also, on Tuesdays after four o’clock, the museum is totally free! Also, if you are a college student, then you can get into the museum free any day of the week.