Ninah Cummer is by far one of the most influential women in Jacksonville history. An avid gardener, art collector, and civic leader who helped found the Garden Club of Jacksonville, Mrs. Cummer wanted badly a local museum to display works of art. Her original donation of 60 pieces was received by the city of Jacksonville following her death in 1958, along with her Riverside home, and what we now know as the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens was founded.
Those 60 pieces quickly turned into 1,000 as the Board of Trustees worked to achieve her dream, turning the Cummer Riverside home into a modern museum, while still leaving traces of its celebrated past, such as the English and Italian gardens, which brought Ninah Cummer recognition in National Geographic.
Today, the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens is frequently recognized as one of the finest attractions in historic Jacksonville, receiving approximately 120,000 visitors each year. The museum features over 5,000 pieces, plus special rotating exhibits. It also features an acre-and-a-half of gardens.
Some of the museum's more well-known artists include Norman Rockwell, Romare Bearden and Gilbert Stuart. It also includes a very rare collection of Meissen porcelain.
The Cummer, as its usually referred to locally, is also home to a number of workshops, including those for children, such as the Weaver Academy of Art, sponsored by the former owners of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Delores and Wayne Weaver.
The restoration of the Tudor Room in 2010 gave visitors a glimpse into the lives of Nina and her husband Arthur, featuring archived documents and photographs, along with restored furniture. Walking through the room feels like travelling in time.
Walking through either garden produces the same effect. Both the English and Italian gardens are simply too beautiful to describe with words. Everything feels as if its perfectly preserved. It's easy to spend an hour or more simply walking through the Cummer's gardens.
The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens is located at 829 Riverside Avenue, near the Garden Club of Jacksonville, and just a short walk from the Fuller-Warren Bridge where the Riverside Arts Market takes place.
Admission to the museum is $10 for adults, and $6 for children, seniors and students. Admissions is free for all on Tuesdays. It's free for college students with identification Tuesday through Friday, and open Tuesday through Sunday until 4 p.m.
Annual memberships are available at the museum, as well as on its website. The membership fee ranges from $30 to $500, depending on the level of sponsorship. Members get into The Cummer for free year round, and receive a host of additional benefits, including a membership tour.