Cummer Museum Raises $1.5M Endowment To Hire Gardens Curator

Apr 1, 2019

The Cummer Museum Of Art and Gardens will be able to put a stronger emphasis on its gardens thanks to a $1.5 million endowment.

The endowment is now fully funded with the announcement of an $800,000 gift from a single donor.

“With this gift, Lory Doolittle and her family help assure that the treasures of landscape architecture here at the Cummer Museum will be stewarded into the future,” said Adam Levine, the museum’s director and CEO.

Doolittle has been actively involved with the museum since moving to Jacksonville in 2004 from Connecticut. She has worked as a volunteer since 2013, providing tours of the galleries and gardens for schools, private groups and the general public.

The news comes on the heels of the Cummer's recently reopening its Riverside Avenue gardens, which had been closed due to heavy damage from Hurricane Irma.

The renovation of the gardens got underway in January. Levine said the new curator position will ensure the gardens receive the level of attention they deserve.

“In the past, the gardens have not necessarily been staffed in a way that would support acknowledging their importance that these are the greatest works of art in the collection, so to speak,” said Levine.

The English Garden has been entirely reconstructed. The Olmsted Garden is nearly finished, and the Italian Garden’s restoration is expected to be completed in early July.

Proceeds from Garden Month 2017 were used to restore the English Garden at the Cummer.
Credit Bill Bortzfield / WJCT News

Levine said once the gardens are fully restored, the position will allow the museum to look at how to better incorporate nature into the art exhibits and art into the gardens.

The curator will also be tasked with developing garden-related programming and creating partnerships that increase the garden’s overall visibility.

“The Cummer Gardens were created by Ninah Cummer with care and devotion,” said Doolittle in an email to WJCT News. “With the help of a garden curator, Mrs. Cummer’s garden legacy will continue to enhance the Cummer Museum and educate the public.”

The gardens include spectacular views of the St. Johns River.
Credit Bill Bortzfield

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org, 904-358-6349 or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.