Thursday, July 23, 2020

Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens to reopen for phase II

The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens today announced its second phase of reopening, which restores community access to the Museum’s indoor galleries and exhibitions in a limited capacity, will begin on Tuesday, July 21, 2020.

This announcement follows the safe and successful first phase of reopening that began on June 20 with the historic riverfront gardens, light bites and beverage service through the Cummer Café and two pop-up locations of the Museum Shop. The Museum will continue to limit daily capacity across the campus for the foreseeable future.

“Since the Museum closed to the public in March, we have been diligently working toward the day when we could safely welcome the community back to our galleries to find comfort, inspiration and respite during this challenging time,” said Interim Director and Chief Advancement Officer, Kerrie Slattery. “We are grateful to be able to open our doors so that everyone can once again experience art, culture and connection, in a safe and socially distanced setting.”

To celebrate the reopening of the galleries and honor Northeast Florida’s military community, VyStar Credit Union will sponsor free admission for active duty service members and their families on July 25 (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and July 26 (12 to 4 p.m.).

"VyStar Credit Union has a deep appreciation for our military, and we are proud to partner with the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens to sponsor free admission for service members and their families," said Brian Wolfburg, President/CEO of VyStar Credit Union. "We hope this provides a meaningful experience that celebrates the rich art and culture found in our community."

Members and guests are required to reserve a timed ticket in advance of their visit at Tickets are available in two-hour time increments, with dates and times for the upcoming week updated every Monday.

The Museum has implemented many safety and sanitation measures, including hand sanitizer stations throughout the campus, plexiglass guards for the front desk area and expanded daily cleaning and sanitation policies for all common areas and surfaces according to the Centers for Disease Control and Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines. All galleries now feature routes to direct the flow of movement and support social distancing. Transitioning to a timed ticket model provides additional time for cleaning and disinfecting throughout the campus, including high-touch surfaces. Museum staff, members and guests are required to wear masks.

The Cummer Café will fully reopen on August 1. Art Connections, the Museum’s interactive education center, will remain temporarily closed for remodeling.

For information about the Museum’s permanent collection, internally curated gallery spaces and special exhibitions, visit The Museum’s digital gallery experiences, virtual tours and online resources remain available to the community at

‘Cummer Museum’ helps special needs students through virtual program

“The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens” and “Connecting Thru Music” (CTM) have partnered to provide a unique learning opportunity for children with special needs enrolled in Duval County Public Schools’ Extended School Year (ESY) program: a three-week virtual series, “Live from the Cummer: Connecting Art and Music.” Music therapists from CTM’s partner, First Coast Music Therapy, along with Cummer Museum educators, will host two 30-minute classes, twice weekly.  During each class, these students and their families have the opportunity to explore the Museum’s artwork and galleries through lively and fun music interventions.

The virtual explorations, which launched on July 7, are presented live through Microsoft Teams at 11 a.m. and again at 11:30 a.m. for two different groups of ESY students, based on their ages and abilities. Each session includes a brief curated art tour (approximately five minutes) led by a Museum educator and information about the themes presented in the museum gallery. The music therapists engage the ESY students for approximately 20 minutes with songs connected to the theme and artwork. Additionally, these students receive art-making ideas that their families can work on together at home.

“We are focused on the need for a flexible and creative approach so that the children will have this unique opportunity to learn during these challenging times,” said Karen Demuth, Executive Director of CTM. “The added benefit of their parents being present because it is virtual adds a positive experience and promotes learning, bonding and fun.”

For many families, the summer break is a critical time to maintain the gains students have realized during the school year. “During these uncertain and stressful times, it’s more important than ever for the Cummer Museum to support the diverse needs of our local community,” said Kim Kuta Dring, Director of Education for the Cummer Museum. “This partnership provides students with differing abilities and their families with access to high quality artworks and experiences that promote self-expression, wellness and family stability – all important aspects of a child’s healthy growth and development.”

About the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens: For almost 60 years, the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens has been committed to engaging and inspiring through the arts, gardens, and education. A permanent collection of more than 5,000 objects and historic gardens on a riverfront campus offers nearly 150,000 annual visitors a truly unique experience on the First Coast. Nationally recognized education programs serve adults and children of all abilities. For further information, including hours, visit The Cummer Museum.

About Connecting Thru Music: Connecting Thru Music is a 501c3 that partners with First Coast Music Therapy to provide music therapy with board certified music therapists and related music services which enhance the cognitive, social, emotional, physical, development growth of the children with special needs throughout Duval County and the Northeast Region of Florida. For more information, visit

Florida Theatre welcomes corporate partner Bowing Oaks

The historic, nonprofit Florida Theatre welcomes Bowing Oaks as its newest Corporate Partner.

Owner of Bowing Oaks, Jim Efstathion, has a deep connection to the arts in North Florida, having moved to Jacksonville over 50 years ago to begin working with Ted Johnson and the Alhambra Dinner Theatre.  During his years in Jacksonville, Efstathion and his family have become familiar and welcome faces at the Florida Theatre.  “Each Christmas season for over a decade, The Florida Theatre became our second home as our daughters and their friends rehearsed and performed in the Nutcracker. Music, dancing and celebration have always been a part of our family’s DNA,” said Efstathion.

It was Jim Efstathion’s family that led him to create what has now become Bowing Oaks.  “Seven years ago, my wife Cheryl came up with an idea.  When most people were retiring, we designed and built a venue in a natural setting for one of our daughters to have her wedding. Bowing Oaks was born,” said Efstathion.  “Our booking manager Heather Canada Randall remarked, ‘If you build it, they will come.’  And boy did they.  With over 450 events held to date, Bowing Oaks is considered one of the premier wedding and events venues in north Florida.  In addition to weddings, Bowing Oaks is home to 1 Vibe Dance, an internationally acclaimed dance studio with thousands of participants attending classes over the last four years.”

“I know Jim has a long history of involvement in the arts and theatre as a practitioner and also as a supporter.  He knows the importance of the arts to business and business to the arts,” said Florida Theatre President, Numa Saisselin.  “The Florida Theatre earns 85% of its annual budget from its business activities, and support from the business community, like our new Corporate Partner Bowing Oaks, helps to close that small budget gap every year and keep the Florida Theatre and its programs something special for our community.”

The historic, nonprofit Florida Theatre is sponsored by Community First Credit Union.  For a complete list of upcoming events or to buy tickets visit the Theatre's official web site

About Bowing Oaks: Located on five acres in the Bayard area of south Jacksonville, Bowing Oaks is the city’s premier wedding and event venue, with just the right blend of rustic elegance and modern convenience.  Bowing Oaks’s 3,200 square foot ballroom can accommodate up to 200 guests with an unparalleled sense of rustic elegance.  The venue is fully handicapped-accessible, has two spacious lounge/dressing areas for wedding parties, and a large catering kitchen.  Bowing Oaks also has two unique outdoor ceremony sites, and numerous locations to take amazing photos.