Organization: Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens

Location: Jacksonville, FL

Express Interest

About The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens:


To engage and inspire through the arts, gardens, and education.


The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens is a vital community partner that reaches out to diverse audiences through outstanding artistic offerings, dynamic learning experiences, and opportunities to participate in the beauty of the natural world.  The Museum is an environment in which joy and discovery infuse all that we do.  Arts, gardens, and education converge to create meaningful personal experiences and open a world of new possibilities.  We honor our rich history, embrace the energy of our time, and commit to a vibrant future through the advancement of resources to grow and deepen our mission.

About the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens

The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens is the largest fine arts museum in Northeast Florida, and a pillar of arts, culture, and community engagement for the greater Jacksonville community.

The Museum was established in 1958, when art collector, garden enthusiast, and civic leader Ninah M.H.  Cummer bequeathed the art collection and riverfront home she shared with her husband Arthur, to create the Museum.  Its art collection is one of the finest in the Southeast, and its 2.5 acres of historic gardens, set against the backdrop of the St. Johns River, are a cultural and artistic focal point.  In addition, the Museum is nationally recognized for its interactive educational programs.  Located in the historic Riverside section of Jacksonville adjacent to downtown, the Cummer Museum is the perfect blend of art, gardens, and education that inspires imagination and excitement for all ages.

As a beacon of arts and culture in the Jacksonville region, the Cummer Museum is broadly embraced by the community and supported by its most prominent philanthropists.  It has a membership base in excess of 2,300, and in 2016, more than 7,700 volunteers devoted nearly 31,000 hours of time and talents to the Cummer as it welcomed more than 165,000 visitors.

The Museum employs 40 professionals and has an annual operating budget of $4 million that covers the Museum’s operations.  The budget is funded through contributions, grants, events, earned income, and a distribution from the institution’s $30 million endowment.


Throughout the institution’s history, the Permanent Collection has served as the cornerstone in the Cummer Museum’s desire to serve as “a center of beauty and culture” for the benefit of “all of the people,” in accordance with the wishes of its founder.

The Museum’s art collection has grown from the original group of more than 60 works bequeathed by Mrs. Cummer to nearly 5,000 works acquired by gift, purchase, and bequest.  The Permanent Collection offers world-class art spanning from 2100 B.C. through the 21st century and includes masterpieces created by Peter Paul Rubens, Winslow Homer, Thomas Moran, Norman Rockwell, and Romare Bearden.  It is also home to the Wark Collection of Early Meissen Porcelain, as well as six other special collections that add great depth to specific aspects of the Permanent Collection.

The Cummer Museum believes strongly in the connection between art and the natural environment.  As a result, several sculptures that are part of the Permanent Collection have been integrated into the landscape throughout the campus.  These include Janet Scudder’s playful Running Boy, on view in the courtyard, and Riis Burwell’s Entropy Series #26, nestled above the Italian Garden. A sculpture of Mercury by an unknown artist takes center stage in the Olmsted GardenDiana of the Hunt, by American artist Anna Hyatt Huntington, is located in the Upper Tier and was a gift to the Cummer Museum by the artist.

In addition to its Permanent Collection, the Cummer Museum hosts diverse special exhibitions that exemplify its focus on high-quality offerings that have the power to engage audiences and provide a platform for building community through the arts.


The Cummer Museum boasts some of the most important and delightful gardens in Northeast Florida.  The Gardens, once part of the private residences of the three Cummer families, have a fascinating history stretching back more than 100 years and bear the imprint of some of the foremost names in landscape design and horticulture, including Ossian Cole Simonds, Ellen Biddle Shipman, Thomas Meehan and Sons, and the fabled Olmsted firm.  The involvement of these prestigious firms gives national importance to the Cummer Gardens, which are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.  In addition to the lush plantings, features such as reflecting pools, fountains, arbors, antique ornaments, and sculptures help create a special outdoor space that provides a perfect complement to the Museum’s Permanent Collection.

English Garden

Upon the completion of their Tudor-style home in 1903, Arthur and Ninah Cummer engaged Michigan-based landscape architect Ossian Cole Simonds to create the first plan for their estate.  Simonds’ initial scheme, with naturalistic sweeps of native trees and shrubs, enhanced the stands of majestic live oaks along the riverfront property.  These plantings provided the backbone for later development.  In 1910, the Cummers turned to Philadelphia nurserymen Thomas Meehan and Sons, who created the basic design configuration that exists today.  The garden is rectangular in shape, with beautifully-laid brick paths alternating with grass walks and a striking semicircular cypress-beamed pergola overlooking the St. Johns River.

Italian Garden

The jewel in the crown of the Cummer Gardens is the Italian Garden, one of only a handful of extant gardens designed by Ellen Biddle Shipman.  Designed in 1931, this garden was conceived as the ultimate display garden for Ninah’s large collection of Italian marble garden ornaments and hundreds of azaleas.  Two long reflecting pools frame the view to the green, ficus-covered gloriette that resembles the famous water gardens at the Villa Gamberaia in Tuscany.

Olmsted Garden

In the early 1930s, Arthur and Ninah Cummer’s brother and sister-in-law, Waldo and Clara Cummer, inherited an adjacent family property and engaged William Lyman Phillips, a partner in the Olmsted Brothers firm, to incorporate this new property into their existing gardens.  These gardens were partially obliterated in the early 1960s following an acquisition by a local bank. The property was purchased by the Cummer Museum in 1992, and was fully restored based on archival material from the Olmsted Brothers firm as well as historic Cummer family photographs.  Today, this structure houses the education and art connections and administrative offices for the Museum, and was completed in 2013.

Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver Community Sculpture Garden

In 2013, the Cummer Museum completed a major campus-wide landscape and beautification project that culminated in the creation of the J. Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver Community Sculpture Garden, located in the front lawn of the Art Connections building.  The Sculpture Garden features four permanent installations from the Cummer Museum’s Permanent Collection: William Zorach’s Spirit of the Dance; Sir Jacob Epstein’s Seventh Portrait of Kathleen; Archie Held’s Lovers; and Takashi Soga’s Sea of the Ear Rings.  In addition to these, the Sculpture Garden hosts one temporary exhibition annually.


The Cummer Museum offers a robust array of educational programs designed to engage, inspire and provide access for individuals of all ages and backgrounds.  These programs help define the Museum’s essential partnership with the community.

Art Connections, the Museum’s nationally recognized interactive education center, sets the stage for learning that takes place throughout the rest of the Museum, providing the opportunity to explore art in a different way and gain a better understanding of works in the Collection.

Classes, workshops and camps provide adults and children with skills, techniques and perspective to enjoy a lifetime of artistic expression.  Educational school tours use an integrated curriculum that supports state and national standards in the visual arts, math, science, language arts, and social studies.

Cummer in the Classroom and the Weaver Academy of Art are two comprehensive art education programs at the Cummer Museum that serve more than 3,000 children (pre-kindergarten through fifth grades) and nearly 200 teachers in nine Title 1 schools.  This initiative, the largest educational program in the history of the Cummer Museum, provides outreach into the classroom, Museum tours, teacher trainings, free art classes, classroom resources, free family passes to the Museum, and a scholarship program for Camp Cummer.

The Cummer Museum is home to the Jacksonville affiliate of VSA, an international organization that provides opportunities in the arts for individuals with disabilities.  The annual VSA Festival invites Jacksonville-area students with disabilities to visit the Cummer Museum for a chance to experience art through all of their senses.  Over the course of four days, nearly 1,800 children, 700 teachers and chaperones, and 1,300 volunteers fill the Museum to engage in art viewing, movement, and art-making activities throughout the entire campus.

Other education and outreach programs include an initiative to bring the visual and literary arts to adult women who are blind and/or low-vision; an early childhood education program that integrates science, technology, engineering, art and math; and an NEA-funded program that provides adaptive art-making equipment to individuals with different levels of abilities.

About Jacksonville

Jacksonville, Florida has been named one of the 50 best places to live in America by Business Insider.  With abundant waterways, parks and ecological preserves, Jacksonville’s natural beauty is complemented by a thriving, modern and vibrant city with cosmopolitan dining options, attractions, museums and cultural institutions, a burgeoning downtown district and a unique history.

Jacksonville has a thriving business, higher education, military and healthcare infrastructure.  The city is home to CSX’s corporate headquarters, Fidelity National Financial, the PGA Tour’s corporate headquarters and the Jacksonville Jaguars.  The University of North Florida and Jacksonville University are two leading higher education institutions, alongside the region’s major hospitals, including the Mayo Clinic and Baptist Health.  Nearby Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Naval Station Mayport, and Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay distinguish Jacksonville as the 3rd largest naval presence in the country.

The largest city by square mileage in the continental U.S., Jacksonville was recently selected by TripAdvisor users as a top 10 emerging destination, and has been featured by Forbes and Travelocity.  The Jacksonville region includes countless artist communities, historic towns and beaches along the Atlantic coastline, and a sophisticated and burgeoning cultural landscape in the city’s downtown.  Within striking distance of Jacksonville’s center are the historic community of St. Augustine, the oldest occupied European settlement in the continental Unites States; Ponte Vedra, a seaside community and a major golfing locale; Amelia Island, an island beach community home to numerous cultural events; and Jacksonville Beach, a popular beach destination known for fishing and outdoor recreation.

Jacksonville has become one of the nation’s prominent cultural hubs, with a surprising and diverse culinary scene, and a vibrant panorama of visual arts, theater and music.  The Jacksonville Jazz Festival is the second largest in the country, and the Jacksonville Symphony, one of Florida’s long-standing orchestras, offers live symphonic music for audiences throughout the region.  In addition to the musical landscape, visual art is everywhere in Jacksonville, including the gardens and masterpieces at the Cummer Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art’s world-class contemporary art collection, and a flourishing local gallery scene.  The local government invests heavily in arts and culture, granting more than $2.5 million annually and funding a noted Art in Public Places program.

The Opportunity:

The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens is seeking an experienced, exceptional and visionary chief executive to lead its AAM-accredited institution, serving as the torchbearer for its distinctive legacy in Jacksonville and the region as an arts and culture hub, while expanding the Museum’s impact on current and future generations.

In May of 2017, the Museum received a $4M gift to name and endow the chief executive position, which will be known as the George W. and Kathleen I. Gibbs Executive Director.  The gift was received from the Disosway Foundation of New York, established by Dudley D. Johnson, a Jacksonville native who currently serves as a trustee of the Museum and whose grandfather, George W. Gibbs, was influential in the development of Jacksonville during the first half of the twentieth century. The proceeds of the endowment will be used to support the compensation and expenses related to the Executive Director’s position.

The Executive Director, reporting to the Board of Trustees, leads the Cummer Museum, oversees its operations and is the primary driver of the strategy to fulfill the Museum’s mission “to engage and inspire through the arts, gardens, and education.”  Advancing the institution is the primary goal for the Executive Director, who will be responsible for garnering support for the institution’s priorities, including serving as chief fundraiser for the Museum.  The Executive Director will lead the development and implementation of a strategic vision and planning process for the Museum, in partnership with the Board of Trustees, to evolve the organization from its current multi-year strategic plan and operating model.  The Executive Director will provide skillful oversight of all programs and operations, and promote innovative and thoughtful programming that engages the local community and an expanding audience.

As the face of the Cummer Museum, the Executive Director will have the gravitas, enthusiasm and ambition to develop and leverage a range of relationships locally, regionally and within the industry.  The Executive Director is also seen as the primary advocate for arts and culture in the community and “speaks” for the institution’s collections, exhibitions and gardens, connecting the public to arts and culture.  The Cummer is proud to enjoy remarkably strong partnership from our volunteer and affinity groups, and the Executive Director will have the opportunity to continue to leverage and explore these partnerships.  Ensuring the continued relevance of the Cummer is a key priority, and this leader will be charged with elevating and reimagining the arts in the region, as well as educating visitors and the community about the importance of arts in society.

The Cummer Museum has a well-respected Board of Trustees and the Executive Director will be skilled in board relations to maximize the value and role of this dedicated group of stewards.  Working with the Board, the Executive Director will continue to build on the financial success of the Cummer Museum, while enhancing curatorial ambitions and fundraising capacity in furtherance of the Museum’s vision.  Through inspired, active and diligent leadership and management, and drawing on a well of experience and knowledge, the Executive Director will take the Museum into the next phase of its evolution.

Community leaders and stakeholders of the Cummer Museum have shared their perspectives on this unique professional opportunity:

“One person can elevate the arts in Jacksonville.”

“The Cummer has the opportunity to be the cultural convening point and magnet.”

 “The Cummer is the masthead arts organization; there’s the expectation that we’ll lead collaboration in the community.”

“We’re a community convening platform with unique assets.”

“The Executive Director will be well supported. People want to see the Cummer succeed. The Museum has a strong board, and the potential is huge. Jacksonville is a youthful, fast-growing town, with growth businesses, momentum, a strong economy, and a strong arts community.”

“The Executive Director will inherit a wonderful community treasure with a very strong reputation, and a staff that is very talented and loyal and cares deeply about the Cummer and the community.”

“Jacksonville is very welcoming, and is eager for leadership.  Someone with an ambitious vision and the ability to build partnerships would be met with enthusiasm.”

Key Responsibilities:

The Executive Director is responsible for fulfilling the Museum’s mission and its financial objectives by providing leadership and creative vision for its growth, and skillful management of all Museum operations. The Executive Director serves as the Cummer’s primary representative to the community, engaging and inspiring broad support for the Museum, and expanding its profile as a cultural beacon for the region.  This individual will work closely with the Museum’s Board of Trustees to develop and implement strategic goals and objectives, including a strategic plan to expand the Museum’s campus, collections and programs.  As the chief fundraiser for the Museum, the Executive Director will lead the planning and implementation of a capital campaign and other advancement activities, and will be actively engaged in cultivating and stewarding current and potential donors. The Executive Director will plan and manage the business and financial affairs of the Museum, and will inspire, mentor and provide ongoing professional development for its staff.


  • Provide charismatic leadership to the Cummer Museum, with respect for its history and a creative vision for its future. Serve as the experienced and influential representative of the Museum locally and in the regional and national arts and museum community.
  • Collaborate with the Board of Trustees to refine the Museum’s long-term goals, and create and execute an overall strategic plan. Engage the Board as active participants in fundraising efforts, and in cultivating and identifying potential Board members.
  • Provide inspirational leadership and well-conceived and executed management of the Cummer Museum staff.  Foster a culture of openness and collaboration between staff, volunteers and the Board of Trustees so that each may be informed and enhance the other’s work.
  • Provide skilled and diligent oversight of the Museum’s financial resources and operations.  Work with the Board of Trustees to provide leadership, information, and support that enhances the governance of the Museum; communicate to the Board with transparency and high-quality information to support sound policy decisions and facilitate their fiduciary responsibility.

Fundraising & External Relations

  • Cultivate major gifts and steward the institution’s most significant current and potential donors.
  • Cultivate collectors of art and gifts of art to the Museum’s permanent collection.
  • Provide leadership in the creation and implementation of a development plan that includes membership; annual fund; donor cultivation, appreciation and retention; corporate and foundation relations; marketing; and capital efforts.
  • Assess the existing capital campaign plan and status, and lead the strategy for renewing the campaign in alignment with strategic goals.
  • Embrace the role of chief spokesperson and advocate for the Museum with professional organizations, funding agencies, businesses, governmental agencies, donors, other museums and non-profits, and the general public.
  • Work closely with the Development Committee to effectively reach out to current and prospective donors to cultivate, deepen and develop their support of the Cummer Museum, and actively explore new fundraising opportunities.
  • Work closely with the Board of Trustees, particularly the Board Chairman, to enable the Board to fulfill its governance function and energize the Board to be full participants in fundraising and advocacy efforts; activate the Board of Trustees in the development of community relationships; and mentor and support the work of the Board to identify, cultivate and meet with prospective donors.
  • Work in close collaboration with staff and volunteers to enhance the visitor experience before, during, and after a visit to ensure that visitors have a positive and enjoyable experience.
  • Continue to explore new ways to reach audiences, create innovative exhibitions and initiatives, and partner with outside individuals and organizations to develop meaningful, engaging programming.

Artistic and Programmatic Leadership

  • Provide experience, scholarship and industry stature in order to elevate the Cummer Museum’s profile in the artistic community regionally and nationally.
  • Serve as the primary spokesperson and advocate for the Cummer’s art collection and gardens, and more broadly, for the importance of art and culture to the community.
  • Develop, with the Board, staff and key volunteers, a programmatic vision for the Museum’s programs, exhibitions and gardens that reflects a commitment to creative excellence that is accessible to a diverse range of audiences.
  • Continue to assess the current collection, in consultation with the Artistic Affairs Committee, while continuing to move the Museum forward with its acquisitions and deaccessions; actively safeguard the physical health of the collection, diligently inform the Board of any long-term considerations.
  • Provide understanding and knowledge of the art world and its key players, and an ability to translate this into meaningful collaborations and exhibitions for the institution that speak to the community and national audiences. Actively cultivate relationships with artists and collectors interested in deepening the Museum’s collections.
  • Inspire and direct scholarly activities that elevate the Museum’s profile, including authorship of publications and articles, and seeking industry or academic recognition for specific portions of the collection, or for noteworthy exhibitions and artists.


  • Develop, implement, and accomplish the annual operating plan and annual budget of the organization as approved by the Board of Trustees, working with staff to evaluate day-to-day operational effectiveness of the Cummer Museum and align resources to fulfill strategic goals.
  • Create a positive working environment for the entire organization, strong staff morale, and a culture of teamwork and mutual support among all staff.  In collaboration with Human Resources, implement policies and procedures that ensure ongoing professional development, and motivate and guide a highly functioning team.
  • Oversee, along with guidance and support from the Board Treasurer and Finance Committee, budgeting, the annual financial audit, tax filings, and maintenance of correct and complete records required; maintain the healthy operation of the Cummer Museum under all state, local rules and regulations and contractual requirements and in keeping with the best practices and standards of collecting museums.

Core Competencies:

The successful candidate will be an accomplished leader with a background in museums or similar institutions, who has achieved demonstrable success in establishing and achieving strategic and mission-related objectives.  S/he will have significant experience in administrative leadership, including programming, fundraising, human resources management, and financial oversight.  Keen business acumen, curatorial judgment and the ability to be strategic with donors and key partners are essential to success in the position.

The Executive Director will model the Museum’s culture of openness and inclusivity in all interactions, and will be an empathic leader, treating others with respect.  An individual of integrity, ethics and values, this leader will inspire unquestioned trust.  In addition, successful candidates will have knowledge of AAM/AAMD standards and practices, a master’s degree in a related discipline, and the expertise required to evaluate, care for and steward the Cummer’s collection.

The ideal candidate will have the following professional competencies and personal characteristics:

Strategic and Visionary Leader

The Executive Director will be a dynamic and charismatic leader with an entrepreneurial and enthusiastic spirit, and the background and skills to deliver on the mission of the Museum, partnering with the Board to create a vision for its future.  This individual will be a proven strategic thinker with the foresight, capacity, and experience to understand and balance complex and discrete needs.  Agile in ambiguous situations and capable of providing stability and confidence when faced with important and quickly-changing circumstances, the Executive Director will be a consultative thought-leader to the Board and other stakeholders.

Mission Fit and Expertise

The Executive Director will have a passion for and commitment to the arts, the mission of the Cummer Museum, and the Museum’s history, collections, and future.  This leader will be driven by the legacy of the Museum, and by the opportunity to expand its impact in the local community and beyond.  S/he will be a strong advocate for the Museum and have the intellect, knowledge, experience, and training to represent and elevate the Cummer Museum in the region and in the broader arts world.  S/he will have the expertise to curate and seek out world-class, compelling exhibitions for the Cummer to expand audience engagement and to build the Museum’s credibility in the arts across the region.

Expertise in Development and Fundraising

The Executive Director will be a bold, fearless and experienced fundraiser with a measurable track record of success in development, and the expertise and mindset to build strong relationships within the community, with current and potential donors and the Board.  This leader will have substantial experience with various fundraising and communications channels, including capital campaigns, and the ability to provide high-touch engagement with all of the Museum’s constituents.  The Executive Director will be a flexible, confident and self-motivated thought partner who will work with the Board of Trustees in identifying and devising a fundraising strategy for the Cummer Museum.

Business Acumen and Operational Expertise

The Executive Director will have a strong record of successful oversight and management of finance and operations.  S/he will promote a culture of excellence and high-quality execution at all levels within the institution, providing outstanding stewardship for the advancement of the Museum.  Highly skilled in budget, financial and personnel management, this individual will have the perspective to consider the impact of decisions, strategic plans or initiatives, and programs on the organization, and make sound recommendations accordingly.

Scholarship and Recognition: The Executive Director will have significant academic and scholarly achievements in a relevant field, including published or edited works or articles; recognition and/or awards from relevant institutions or organizations; accreditation or certifications from relevant organizations, academic and creative affiliations, including membership with arts organizations; and speaking engagements at seminars, panels, conferences and other industry gatherings.  The successful candidate will have achieved significant standing with peer institutions and in their field, and will have the stature to represent the Cummer Museum to appropriate stakeholders.

Skilled and Inspirational Manager

The Executive Director will be a decisive, results-oriented leader with a collegial, team-oriented working style, open and nimble in adjusting to emerging needs or shifting priorities.  S/he will have a proven record of visible and effective management and the demonstrated ability to professionally develop, nurture and retain a strong team that is focused on impact, excellence, accountability and efficiency.  This individual will be a fervent motivator, able to inspire a shared vision, quality performance and strong morale, empowering and cultivating staff through active and effective communication, feedback and delegation, and will actively promote teamwork and collaboration.

External Relations and Relationship-Building

The Executive Director will have a compelling public presence, and be exceptionally skilled at developing, building, and sustaining excellent relationships.  S/he will have a demonstrated ability to connect with and build bridges among the various stakeholders at the Cummer Museum and throughout the region, including staff, members and visitors, the Board, and community leaders. S/he will have a high degree of public relations insight, serving as the outward-facing representative of the Cummer Museum, able to speak and write fluidly and extensively about the Museum’s history, impact, growth strategy, and future direction to all audiences.  This individual will have excellent public speaking abilities and will feel equally comfortable and effective in presenting to small group as well as large audiences and symposia. This executive will be considerate and open, working collaboratively to find opportunities for the benefit of the Museum as a whole, promoting dialogue to identify best practices, synthesizing divergent views, and coalescing all constituencies around a shared view or plan.


The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens has engaged Koya Leadership Partners to help in this hire.  This search is being led by Michelle Bonoan and Sheila Hennessey.  Please submit a compelling cover letter and resume here or email Sheila at the following:

Michelle R.S.  Bonoan
Managing Director

Sheila Hennessey

About Koya Leadership Partners:

Koya Leadership Partners is a national retained executive search and human capital-consulting firm that works exclusively with nonprofits and social enterprises.  We deliver measurable results, finding exceptionally talented people who truly fit the unique culture of our client organizations and ensuring that organizations have the resources and strategies to support them.  For more information about Koya Leadership Partners, visit