New Cummer Museum CEO Looks To Community On How To Best Serve Jacksonville

Jan 8, 2019

The Cummer Museum’s new Director and CEO says he plans to seek input from community stakeholders as he looks to make the institution as relevant as possible for Northeast Florida.

Adam Levine, whose official title at the Cummer Museum is the George W. and Kathleen I. Gibbs Director and Chief Executive Officer, wrapped up his first day on the job Monday.

Levine was appointed to the position in October after the museum’s former director, Hope McMath, announced her resignation. She went on to found the community focused arts organization Yellow House in Jacksonville.

Levine previously served as the deputy director and curator for ancient art at the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio.

“There’s a lot of energy and excitement to have the directorship filled,” Levine told WJCT News on Monday evening. “The team here is so great and we’ve already started working on a bunch of exciting projects over the two months of my transition. To be here full time and working with them on a day-to-day basis to bring these projects to fruition is really exciting for me and I think really exciting for them.”

Levine arrived in Jacksonville just a few days prior and said he’ll be moving into his new home this weekend.

“Leaving freezing weather and going to a place that’s 80 degrees and sunny on New Year’s Day is not bad,” he said laughing. “I will take that. The thing which drew me to Jacksonville was the amazing community and this jewel of a museum, but the change in climate and geography is definitely a nice secondary benefit.”

With Martin Luther King, Jr. Day fast approaching, Levine pointed to the relevancy of the Cummer Museum’s current exhibit.

Augusta Savage at work on The Harp, 1935-1945, New York World's Fair (1939-1940).
Credit Photographs and Prints Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.

“The Cummer has an extraordinarily important exhibition open right now titled ‘Augusta Savage: Renaissance Woman,’ about local a artist, an African-American female artist from Green Cove Springs, who was an incredibly important figure in the Harlem Renaissance who ended up spending the lion's share of her life in New York as an artist and arts educator,” Levine said. “We just had brilliant lectures by the curator of that exhibition, Dr. Jeffreen Hayes.”

Related: Cummer Museum Exhibit Features Sculptor Augusta Savage, A Green Cove Springs Native

According to Levine, Savage’s work is just one of a series of “exciting” exhibits that will be housed at the Cummer this year.

“The next exhibition to follow Augusta Savage, which closes on April 7th, will be a blockbuster of a show of Impressionist and post-Impressionist painting from the Brooklyn Museum of Art collection which will look at the advent of modernism and how this cutting edge painting really ushered in an entirely new approach to art,” he said.

Claude Monet (French, 1840 – 1926), Rising Tide at Pourville (Marée montante à Pourville), 1882.
Credit Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mrs. Horace O. Havemeyer.

The exhibit, called “French Moderns: Monet to Matisse,” will feature 60 works of art from the Brooklyn Museum’s European collection.

Levine said his priority, for the time being, will be to get input from the community he now serves.

“The thing I’m most excited for is to listen and to learn,” he said. “To spend time in the community meeting with all community stakeholders to figure out the ways that the Cummer can plug in and use quality art, quality exhibitions, quality programs, quality gardens and quality education to make it the most relevant institution for northeast Florida.”

Brendan Rivers can be reached at brivers@wjct.org, 904-358-6396 or on Twitter at @BrendanRivers.