Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens
George & Kathleen Gibbs Director and CEO, Jacksonville, FL
GEORGE & KATHLEEN GIBBS DIRECTOR AND CEO
"To engage and inspire through the arts, gardens, and education."
The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, located on the St. John's River in Jacksonville, Florida, otherwise known as "Florida's First Coast," 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. Arts, gardens, and education converge to create meaningful personal experiences and open a world of new possibilities designed to inspire imagination, creativity and excitement, and nurture lifelong connections.
With significant increases in attendance, acquisitions and three newly endowed positions, diversity in staff and the Board, and many new programs and partners, the museum has enjoyed unparalleled success over the past 18 months and is currently geared for accelerated growth. As detailed within its current multiyear strategic plan, the Cummer stands committed to a vibrant future as an important civic and cultural resource, as well as a center of regional excellence, by providing quality programming which is intellectually rigorous, broadly accessible, relevant within the Jacksonville community and as appropriate, aesthetically appealing, and dare we say, fun.
Arts. Established in 1958, when art collector, garden enthusiast, and civic leader Ninah Cummer bequeathed her art collection and riverfront home to create a museum, the Cummer Museum's success is reflected within its rich history and proud legacy within the community. Building on its core collection of 60 pieces from Mrs. Cummer's estate, the collection has grown to include more than 5,000 works of art spanning from 2100 BC through the 21st century. The collection includes masterpieces created by Peter Paul Rubens, Winslow Homer, Thomas Moran, Whitfield Lovell, Norman Rockwell, Romare Bearden and Mildred Thompson. The Cummer has recently added more than 12 new works of significance, reflecting the Board's strong commitment to diversifying the museum's holdings. In addition to showcasing its own collection, the museum features a dynamic multiyear schedule of exhibitions and long-term loans from museum partners and collectors across the globe.
In 2020, the museum's largest traveling exhibition to date, Augusta Savage: Renaissance Woman, completed its three-venue national tour following its presentation in Jacksonville 2018-2019. Exploring Savage's career as an artist, educator, and a community organizer who used art as a form of activism, the exhibition and its companion catalogue received support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Henry Luce Foundation's American Art Program, and was celebrated by the Sotheby's International Council with a special commendation.
Gardens. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2010, the Cummer Museum's Olmsted, English and Italian gardens 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 Cummer Gardens, which serve as a backdrop for the museum's Summer at the Cummer events featuring free entertainment, live music, art activities, lawn games, lounge areas, and more are considered to be among the most precious works of art in the museum's permanent collection. After sustaining extensive damage from Hurricane Irma in 2017, supporters rallied to fund a successful $1.3 million reconstruction effort which was completed in June 2019.
Education. The museum's commitment to education and community engagement is reflected in its nationally recognized education programs which serve adults and children of all abilities. Art Connections, the Cummer's interactive education center, enhances the cultural learning of visitors of all ages by offering educational programs and interactive opportunities, both in and out of the museum. Studio art classes at the Cummer allow children, families, teens, and adults to explore their creative side while learning new skills, techniques, and styles. Additionally, the transformative annual Arts4All Festival gives children with differing abilities the opportunity to express themselves creatively through hands-on artmaking.
Since 2013, Cummer in the Classroom,now broadened to Cummer in the Community has served more than 20,000 students and teachers through artmaking activities and education outreach. The programprovides experiences in which art, science, literacy, sharing, and parental involvement that are fully integrated to promote a lifelong love of learning by sparking imagination, creativity, and curiosity. Individuals, and in particular children, learn to think differently and critically by engaging different senses. The museum is also home to a range of Arts for All adaptive artmaking equipment tools which allow individuals with different levels of abilities to creatively express themselves through the visual arts. Other museum education programs include Elementary and Middle School Camp, and the museum's new "Exploring with Kids" guides, which focus on giving parents tips on how to visit museums with their children. Launched in 2019, the Family2Family program offers free membership to the families of all fourth-grade students enrolled in the local school system.
The vision of the Cummer is to be a vital partner that connects diverse audiences and is inclusive and representative of the community. The newly created position of Director of Community Development is the museum's senior outreach officer, and is responsible for extending the Cummer's brand, mission, and identity into the Northeast Florida community, and in collaboration with the George & Kathleen Gibbs Director and Chief Executive Officer, inviting the community into the museum.
The museum has repeatedly demonstrated a strong sense of resiliency, bolstered by its strong financial position, sizable endowment, and the longstanding philanthropic commitment of its 25-member Board of Trustees, its affinity groups Cummer Amelia and Cummer Beaches, the museum's membership, and community stakeholders and partners. With a strong advancement and strategic communication infrastructure, the museum has successfully increased fundraising and will continue to focus on the visitor experience to enhance and support the highest level of visitor engagement. The Cummer has an annual budget of approximately $5 million, which will likely grow as the museum executes its master plan, with an endowment of approximately $30 million. The museum is managed by a staff of 31 full-time and 17 part-time employees.
The George & Kathleen Gibbs Director and Chief Executive Officer (Director) will provide the strategic leadership, management, creativity, and direction necessary to advance the mission of the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens To engage and inspire through the arts, gardens, and education. The Director will enhance the museum's position as a cultural beacon for the region, serve as ambassador within the greater Jacksonville community, and quickly demonstrate their ongoing commitment to the community on multiple levels. Because of the stature of the Cummer, the position is a de facto leader of the local cultural sector.
The Director will ensure excellence in the Cummer Museum's curatorial, educational, and operational endeavors. This person will motivate, empower, and instill a sense of teamwork among staff, foster a culture of innovation, creativity, collaboration, strategic thinking, transparency, and accountability, and build consensus around clearly articulated goals. Then segue those priorities into actionable plans and strategies in order to grow and strengthen the institution.
Building on recent successes in fundraising, including the establishment of three newly endowed positions the George & Kathleen Gibbs Director and CEO, the J. Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver Chief Curator, and the Doolittle Family Garden Curator the Director will nurture the museum's current base of legacy donors, trustees, and members, and play a proactive, highly visible role in future fundraising, including developing and implementing
strategies that significantly increase the base of support from individuals, foundations, government, and corporate sponsorships, and maximizing and diversifying sources of earned income.
It is expected that the Director will work closely with the Board of Trustees to develop, articulate, and communicate institutional goals and priorities.
PRIORITIES AND KEY RESPONSIBILITIES
The Director will capitalize on the Cummer Museum's strengths and potential and have the following priorities and responsibilities:
- Provide charismatic leadership; take ownership of the museum's current strategic plan; embrace its current course of action as appropriate; with Board and staff, refine and adapt the strategic plan as necessary;
- Fundraise to develop resources to meet the institution's short- and long-term financial needs as well. Actively partner with the Chief Advancement Officer to directly solicit major gifts, annual gifts, special gifts, grants, corporate support, and planned gifts. Solicit gifts of art.
- Understand the business of the Cummer Museum: its budget, resources, partnerships, and sources of support; ensure that the museum is fiscally sound, that resources are aligned with the current operating plan and that the institution is supported by a sustainable mix of both earned and contributed income; establish and maintain a baseline for success across all programs and activities;
- Build and sustain relationships with a wide range of individuals, from Jacksonville residents to artists to collectors and cultural, business, and civic leaders; in partnership with the museum's new Director of Community Development, seek ways to inspire and inform a growing and diverse audience; maintain well-established connections and relationships in civic, philanthropic, cultural, and educational communities; continue to build upon the museum's commitment to diversity and equity in all aspects of museum matters;
- Develop a compelling exhibition schedule that highlights the strengths of the museum's collection; identify and secure special exhibitions and loans that will captivate patrons and speak to the broad interests of a diverse audience; ensure that curatorial efforts reflect and embrace the goals articulated within the Cummer's visitor experience model;
- Champion the Cummer Gardens as a unique horticultural and architectural asset and platform for engaging programs, outdoor exhibitions, and activities; maximize the potential of the gardens for earned revenue opportunities;
- Expand educational activities and programs that are geared toward reaching the broadest possible audience; continue to build cooperative partnerships with the schools and other educational groups;
- Lead planning efforts which bring clarity to and advance the museum's campus/facility master plan; continue to assess the Cummer's capital needs and its ambitious growth and expansion efforts, as well as its deferred maintenance; create a plan and secure the funding to address those needs;
- Harness and maximize the appropriate use of technology and digital media in promoting the museum; invest in the museum's tech infrastructure, systems, data capture and management, and software as appropriate;
- Motivate and supervise a committed staff; advance morale and provide clear direction; delegate appropriate authority and hold individuals accountable for specific and collective performance; harness their energy and ideas;
- Cultivate, solicit, and steward new and existing members of the Board; clearly communicate expectations and opportunities; identify ways to engage the Board as ambassadors to raise awareness of the Cummer Museum's activities.
IDEAL EXPERIENCE AND QUALIFICATIONS
The ideal candidate should bring a mix of conventional, yet disruptive, thinking to the Cummer Museum, and have or be the following:
- Superior knowledge of art and an advanced degree in art history, or a closely related discipline, coupled with a passion for and broad knowledge of museums and how they function; experience with gardens/outdoor public spaces is a plus, along with some background in capital projects;
- The confidence to engage, inspire, and unite diverse constituencies, promote a culture of excellence and high-quality execution and team work at all levels, and manage effectively in all directions; someone open to innovation, with a willingness to embrace new ideas, who will galvanize staff and stakeholders alike, with the goal of making the museum more relevant, accessible, and meaningful;
- A proven track record as a dynamic and accomplished leader, with vision and well-honed managerial skills, along with a demonstrated resiliency and competency to manage in a complex environment; someone who sees the big picture, can effectively manage multiple priorities and engagement strategies, and translate ideas into workable actions and priorities; able to grow an organization in size, impact, and visibility;
- Working relationships within the national and international arts community, including knowledge of museum trends; able to leverage professional connections in the museum world to enhance the museum's presence and reputation on the national stage;
- A persuasive and accomplished fundraiser; successful results in identifying, cultivating, and securing major donations from foundation grants, government support, and corporate sponsorships; strong external relations skills and the ability to identify potential partnerships and other revenue-generating opportunities; previous experience conducting a capital campaign is a plus;
- A commitment to educational outreach; leadership experience in nurturing the development of programming, curricula, and engagement; meaningful experience in developing productive relationships with educational institutions;
- Conversant in the use of technology and social media in promoting an institution, reaching new audiences, strengthening connectivity with current members, and creating innovative and engaging exhibitions and programs;
- Financial acumen and competency in budgeting and other financial matters is essential; able to interpret and articulate financial statements and financial performance; proven project-management skills that transfer to capital and infrastructure improvement efforts;
- Outstanding oral and written communication skills; superior presentation skills that are effective with a range of audiences, including staff, business, cultural, and community leaders, the media, and the general public;
The Director should also be or have:
- Willingness to actively participate in the cultural and civic life of Jacksonville; willing to engage and be highly visible within the community; comfortable being the public face and advocate for the institution; an ability to pick up on cultural cues is a plus;
- Persuasive and resourceful; dynamic in a truly authentic way; a hands-on leader and consensus builder; able to delegate and prioritize multiple activities and responsibilities with clarity and confidence;
- Highly personable, charismatic, and energetic; able to generate enthusiasm and have fun, motivate and direct others; mature, with good judgment and a sense of humor in order to maintain perspective and balance.
For additional information, please visit https://www.cummermuseum.org/
Please send applications or nominations to Mark Tarnacki at Cummer@PhillipsOppenheim.com.