Cummer Museum Names New Director

June 3, 2009 8 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

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.

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.