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Cummer Museum Names New Director

After budget cutbacks forced Jacksonville's premier Museum to cut staff by 15% and suspend all Capital Projects in January of this Year, its most successful and revered director, Maarten van de Gutche, resigned. Van de Gutche's resignation was official in April of this year when he joined the exodus of area cultural directors in the wake of the new economy. Now the venerable institution has named a new Director to take his place: Hope McMath.

Published June 3, 2009 in Culture      8 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


Read the letter from the Cummer:

Edward W. Lane, III, chair of the Board of Trustees for the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, announced Hope McMath as the museum’s new Director.

McMath has served as Interim Director, Deputy Director of Programs, Director of Education, Associate Director of Education and Art Historian at The Cummer since 1994. She holds her Masters of Arts in Teaching and Bachelor of Fine Arts from Jacksonville University and is a prolific printmaking artist.

“Hope McMath has long been recognized as a creative and industrious arts educator, but she surprised and delighted the museum’s Trustees and staff with her strong leadership as interim director during the past several months. We are fortunate to have such a talented and accomplished individual lead The Cummer,” said Lane.

McMath at a Cummer Museum function

As a result of McMath’s leadership and vision, The Cummer’s educational programming and interactive arts center, called Art Connections, is known nationally as a model for arts education programs. During her six-year tenure as Director of Education more than 210,000 school children have visited the museum. The four-day VSA Festival serves children with disabilities and has grown exponentially under her direction. Since its beginning 14 years ago, it has grown to host 2,500 children annually supported by more than 1,300 volunteers and more than two dozen community partners. As Deputy Director of Programs she launched the Weaver Academy of Art, supported by a $1 million endowment from the J. Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver, to reach underserved students in Jacksonville. The program integrates the arts into the children’s education, homes and lives impacting entire families, schools and communities. “Art Connections is a nationally and regionally recognized leader in accessible, quality arts programming that engages and promotes a life-long love of the arts in all students. It is this leadership and excellence that initially encouraged us to endow the Weaver Academy of Art,” said Wayne Weaver.

As Interim Director she has worked with Museum Curator Holly Keris to reshape an exhibition schedule highlighting many of the museum’s collections and donors and is spearheading a three-year strategic planning process for the museum. “The museum’s donors, collection, programs and gardens are great strengths that are both unique to The Cummer and an exciting palette to work with – I am thrilled to lead the strategic planning process that will leverage and engage these assets to their greatest benefit for this community,” said McMath. “The magic that happens when our visitors engage with the art, the gardens and one another inspires me to blend strong Cummer tradition with a fresh vision for the coming years.”

“As incoming Chair, I am enthusiastic about working with Hope over the next two years. She is the right leader with a terrific set of skills that will see the museum through these tough times and position us to be a more dynamic and strong institution than ever before,” said Jim Van Vleck, vice-chair.

McMath replaces Maarten van de Guchte who resigned in April.



June 03, 2009, 01:29:21 PM
This economy is stressing the arts in town, btw.

Any Cummer people on the forums?


June 03, 2009, 01:40:26 PM
I've met her a few times, she's a really interesting and intelligent person. I'm anxious to see what changes she will make.


June 03, 2009, 01:43:45 PM
Well they certainly have opened up the Museum to the local artists pretty recently.  Thats an amazing sign. 


June 03, 2009, 01:54:28 PM
The Cummer is a real treasure for Jacksonville.  It may be the best art museum in the state.


June 03, 2009, 01:57:31 PM
I agree.  It is a civic institution that I am perhaps most proud of when it comes down to it... that and European Street Cafe.   :)


June 03, 2009, 02:03:24 PM
Not to mention the time honored clock that is stuck on twenty minutes past four o clock in the Gardens.

Its only been visible to Riverside locals at night for the past 40 years.


June 03, 2009, 02:24:24 PM
I was recently involved in the Folio Weekly Invitational at the Cummer and while I was picking up my art I was asking a few questions about the show and found out it was their largest opening.

I think it will lead to them showcasing more local and contemporary art.


June 03, 2009, 02:27:30 PM
That would be awesome TPC.  With the UNF partnership happening at the JMOCA, I hope that this means things are about to radically change for the local artists.
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