THE DOOLITTLE FAMILY DIRECTOR OF HORTICILTURE AND GARDENS
“To engage and inspire through the arts, gardens, and education.”
Art, gardens, and education converge within the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens to create meaningful personal experiences, open a world of new possibilities designed to inspire imagination, creativity, and excitement, and nurture lifelong connections. Located on the St. Johns River in Jacksonville, Florida, the Museum is a vital community partner that reaches out to and engages diverse audiences.
Established in 1958, when art collector, garden enthusiast, and civic leader Ninah Cummer bequeathed her art collection and beautiful riverfront home and gardens to create a museum, the Cummer Museum’s success is reflected within its rich history and proud legacy. Building on its core collection of 60 pieces from Mrs. Cummer’s estate, the Museum’s current holdings include more than 5,000 works of art spanning from 2100 BC to the 21st century. 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.
The Cummer Gardens
Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2010, the 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 Brothers firm. The involvement of these prestigious firms gives national importance to the Cummer Gardens. In addition to its plantings and mature oak tree canopy, 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 art-based collections.
Throughout the institution’s 60-year history, the collections and gardens have served as the cornerstone of the Museum’s mission – to “engage and inspire through the arts, gardens, and education.” In accordance with the expressed wishes of its founder, Ninah Cummer, it seeks to serve as “a center of beauty and culture” for the benefit of “all of the people.”
The 2.5-acre Cummer Gardens 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.
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 is currently geared for accelerated growth. As detailed within its current multiyear strategic plan, the Museum has positioned itself 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. The Gardens, as both content and location, are an integral component of this programming.
Governed by a 25-member Board of Trustees, the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens has an annual budget of approximately $5 million, which will likely grow as the Museum executes its campus expansion plan, with an endowment of approximately $40 million. The Museum is managed by a staff of 31 full-time and 17 part-time employees.
The Doolittle Family Director of Horticulture and Gardens will provide the leadership, direction, management, and other resources necessary to bring the historic Cummer Gardens to their fullest potential, maintain the Cummer Gardens’ significance as horticultural gems, and have responsibility for their greenspaces, programming, and plant collections. The Director will position the Cummer Gardens – a critical component of the Museum – as an integral part of the institution and a magnet to draw in new audiences and elevate the overall visitor experience. Serving as the primary force for creative development of the Cummer Gardens, the Director will offer new perspectives and ideas and elevate its living collections and programming.
Specifically, this person will activate the Cummer Gardens as a critical partner with the Museum’s educational and curatorial functions, thereby increasing connectivity between the art, gardens, and educational components of the Museum’s mission. As a member of the senior management team, the Director will work collaboratively with their peers and ensure that the Cummer Gardens are viewed as part of the Museum’s permanent collection and, where appropriate, highlight aspects of the Cummer Gardens which might complement current exhibitions and the Museum’s object-based art collection.
The Director will establish and maintain high horticultural standards across the entire Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens landscape and address the entire Museum campus as a managed system of heritage, visitor experience, and application of best practices. Additionally, this person will inspire, manage, and grow a committed team of professional and volunteer gardeners and cultivate a network of community and business leaders, policy makers, and donors while maintaining a level of commitment among the Cummer Garden’s longtime volunteers and supporters.
The Director will implement and manage the Cummer Gardens’ Cultural Landscape Management Plan (CLMP), which includes the ongoing curation, stewardship, management, and maintenance of these spaces. The Director will also balance historic preservation, aesthetic quality, diverse public use, functionality, maintainability, and sustainability to frame a vision for the future of the landscape that is harmonious with its past.
PRIORITIES AND KEY RESPONSIBILITIES
The Doolittle Family Director of Horticulture and Gardens will serve as the primary champion for the Museum’s garden-related activities and resources. In addition, the Director will be a voice of change, creativity, and community and have the following priorities and responsibilities:
- Understand and further the Cummer Gardens’ role in enhancing the vision and mission of the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens; become familiar with the institutional history, its key players, constituents, and funding sources, and, most importantly, understand and capitalize on its potential;
- Serve as a key voice and contributor to Museum leadership around strategic planning, specifically as it pursues a campus expansion plan beginning in 2022; work closely with planners, landscape designers and landscape architects to develop innovative ways to create and introduce contemporary ideas, programs, and gardens as the Cummer Gardens will be featured proximately in the Museum’s campus expansion planning;
- Partner and have voice in conversations, and determine best use of undeveloped property in the Museum’s holdings; position the Cummer Gardens’ landscape as a core asset of the Museum; provide a sound basis for managing and presenting new ideas and a fresh direction for underdeveloped aspects of the Cummer Gardens that are both inspiring and fiscally aligned;
- Working with the Cummer Gardens staff and contractors, manage and maintain the plant collections to the highest professional standards, including installation, care, pest identification and control, and, as appropriate, propagation;
- As the public face of the Cummer Gardens, lead and guide conversations around garden-related topics including conservation, horticulture, and sustainability in and around the Jacksonville community; drive gardens-related programming; identify and cultivate the interests of the Gardens & Grounds Committee and other garden champions on the Board;
- Identify funding priorities including capital and collections improvements such as landscapes that might feature native plants, a children’s garden and/or other contemporary offerings, and green space options; as part of Jacksonville’s garden district, the Director will be an active partner in the city’s riverfront parks development project and other garden district development and planning efforts;
- Create an environment within the Cummer Gardens that is inclusive, welcoming, and engaging; strengthen local partnerships, traditional garden networks, and nontraditional community partners;
- With a mindful eye to the Cummer Gardens location on the St. Johns River, incorporate environmentally friendly and sustainable practices at every level of treatment, stewardship, management, and maintenance.
IDEAL EXPERIENCE AND QUALIFICATIONS
The Director will be a creative and entrepreneurial leader. Additionally, they will have:
- Leadership and management experience within a horticultural/gardens environment, ideally with a significant network and connections within the horticultural space; excellence and competence in gardens management, programing, and/or education; previous experience in a museum, public garden, historic landscape, or like environment preferred;Demonstrated appreciation for the historic nature of the Cummer Gardens and its offerings and unique sense of place with a museum environment, combined with an appreciation and interest in contemporary trends, initiatives, and best practices;Organizational and planning skills and an attention to detail, including budget management, strategic, and long-range planning experience; the ability to manage and grow a budget;Superior communications and presentation skills that are effective with a range of audiences including volunteers, staff, business and community leaders, the media, and the general public;
- A commitment to serving the Museum’s patrons, donors, volunteers, area garden clubs, and the greater Jacksonville community; the ability to instill in others a greater sense of accountability and ownership;
- Respect for cultural diversity and a demonstrated commitment to the Museum’s emphasis on access for all;
- The ability to communicate effectively and with diplomacy when interacting with staff, volunteers, Board members, and the public in both large and intimate settings;
- A bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture, horticulture, or a related field, or relevant experience.
The Director is also expected to be:
- Energetic and dynamic; able to articulate a vision and motivate staff, colleagues, volunteers and others; a strong and capable presence who inspires confidence in and enthusiasm for the Cummer Gardens;
- A self-starter with strong problem-solving and organizational skills and the ability to handle and prioritize detailed projects simultaneously and make informed decisions; supportive of new ideas and creative risk-taking; passionate about the role and impact of gardens and other public spaces;
- An individual with high integrity who is committed to excellence and practices good judgment, with a sense of humor and a delight in the work at hand; adept at creating and maintaining relationships that are critical to the success of the Cummer Gardens;
- One who can appreciate and articulate the natural beauty and boundless resources of the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens.
For additional information, please visit https://www.cummermuseum.org/.
Please send applications or nominations to Mark Tarnacki at CummerGardens@PhillipsOppenheim.com.
EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY POLICY
The Cummer Museum’s policy is to provide equal employment opportunity to all qualified employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, ancestry, national origin, gender (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, marital status, religion, age, disability, gender identity, results of genetic testing, service in the military, or any other protected status as required by federal, state, or local law. The Museum's intent and desire is that equal employment opportunities will be provided in employment recruitment, selection, compensation, benefits, promotion, demotion, layoff, recall, transfer, leave of absence, termination, and all other terms and conditions of employment.
COMMITMENT TO DIVERSITY
The Museum is committed to creating and maintaining a workplace in which all employees have an opportunity to contribute to the success of the institution and are valued for their skills, experience, and unique perspectives. In addition to being an important principle of sound business management, this commitment is embodied in Museum policy and the way it does business.