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The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens is committed to engage and inspire through the arts, gardens and education. A permanent collection of nearly 5,000 works of art on a riverfront campus offers more than 95,000 annual visitors a truly unique experience on the First Coast. Nationally recognized education programs serve adults and children of all abilities.

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December’s Docents of the Month




Pat and David Balanky

We are so thankful for our docents and each month we love to highlight someone who plays an integral role in helping the Museum’s education team with tours of the campus. This month we are honoring Pat and David Balanky who generously give their time to the Cummer Museum. We asked them to tell us a little more about themselves and why this work is so special to them!

Here’s what they had to say:

Cummer: Why did you want to be a docent and how long have you been with the Museum?
Pat: I am a native of So. Calif.  I met my true love, when he was in the U.S. Navy.  We married in 1954 and returned to his home town of Jacksonville.  We both furthered our life education.  Nursing was my choice and David’s was Criminology.  We raised three children and are now enjoying three grandkids!
David: We decided to become docents at the urging of our friend, Anne Flora.  We have made travel a goal in our lives and always enjoyed the museums, culture and art, so the docent classes seemed like a great opportunity to continue learning together!  Volunteering has been a life purpose, especially with kids.

C: What is your favorite part of this job?

P&D: It is so much fun to see the children explore and learn and play in the Cummer.  The art educators do a terrific job planning the tours and helping us present them.

C: What is your favorite thing to do when you aren’t generously donating your time to the Museum?

D&P: We are involved in helping support the orthopedic and prosthetic program for a hospital in Milot, Haiti.  In addition to that we continue to enjoy travels, friends and family.

Thanks to Pat and David for working so hard for the institution! If you see them around the Museum, please thank them for the dedication and important service!


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The Science of Fashion



Written By: Karl Boecklen, Museum Educator

Have you seen the fashion at the Cummer Museum? And what have you seen?

einsteinIs their more to fashion than meets the eye? Can we dissect it into a system of parts, determine cause and effect, test it, and duplicate the results? Is fashion a product or a producer, do the clothes make the person or the person make the clothes? How much of fashion is art? How much is science? I do not know.

mr. rogersMy understanding of fashion is simple, mostly, dress for the weather. When cold, a wool button down pocketed sweater à la Mr. Rogers or Albert Einstein does very well. I guess this is utility over art. The science of the sweater is in the trapped air that produces a thermal insulation, and in the loose fit and properties of the material that allows moisture to escape (wet clothes will conduct heat away from the body more quickly than dry clothes). As far as for materials, wool is a very good natural fiber, as over a billion sheep worldwide will attest to.

microscopic cross section of wool fiber

Wool fibers are very interesting in their properties and along with modern spinning techniques have one of the highest insulation to weight ratios. In other words, a very warm sweater can be very light in weight; and perhaps less bulky and more stylish. Being hygroscopic (attracting moisture), wool will absorb moisture vapor from the skin and release it out into the drier air. Wool also tends to be mold and mildew resistant and reduce body odor.

When the wool fibers do get wet, the water is taken inside the fiber and away from the body. In addition to keeping the body (and the fiber as a whole) dry; this action is actually a chemical reaction that releases heat. The breaking of a hydrogen bond of the water molecule binds the water into the structure of the wool fiber thus generating heat. This heat is captured in the air pockets formed by the many fibers. Interesting enough, when the moisture releases, it takes up heat away from the air pockets.

sheepSo, on a cool damp night, the wool fibers take up moisture from the air and create warmth amongst the many fibers. As the sun rises, warming and drying the air, moisture is released and the heat stored in the fibers with it. Not a bad system that works, both, for the herd of wooly sheep posing on the hillside and those outfitted with the latest style of Mr. Roger’s sweater.

Though this discussion supplies some revelations behind the choice of materials for a piece of clothing, and enters into the realm of fiber and textile science; it does not say much about how it connects to fashion. And fashion is what is happening at the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens.

The Cummer Museum has stepped into the world of fashion with two of its latest exhibitions; Icons of Style: Fashion Makers, Models, and Images, exhibiting until January 4th and Best Dressed exhibiting until February 8th, 2015.

Icons looks to the runways to see the interconnected roles of fashion’s makers, the models who wear their designs, and the media that disseminate those looks to the world, while, Best Dressed highlights historical works that explore the significance of clothing and fashion.icon dress

Well, fashion is one of those things that most of us know what it is when we talk about it, but, we can’t tell you what it is when asked. The question of whether fashion is art has always been debated but a strange consensus seems to occur. Art is not only in the piece of clothing, but in how it is presented or worn.

Arguments aside that question whether fashion is art; these two exhibits express what has been said and repeated, that fashion is where art, culture and history intersect; a push and pull of elements where art can be derived from fashion or fashion can be an outlet for art.

I am willing to take this one step further, in that science is as much of culture and history, in that science is a system of studying, testing, and experimenting on things in nature; science exists at this intersect as well.

dr seussIt intersects when humans first decided to adorn their bodies with the patterns of nature they saw around them. By experimenting with plants and soil, they created dyes to color themselves with unique designs that connected them to nature and each other. Perhaps like the Sneetches of Dr. Seuss, the possession of these designs implied a certain status or currency of being.
As weather and migration dictated, clothes came about. Molecular biologists say this was at least 100,000 years ago citing that is when body lice that live in the seams of our clothing, diverged genetically from head lice that live on the hairs of our bodies.

Developed by availability of resources, purpose, shared stories, technology, status of the individual or group, and expression, clothes and fashion evolve to people’s needs and whimsy. But, what does fashion do to people? Surprisingly, fashion may be able to push back and change us.

Next time, clothes might actually make the person.

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What happened to looted art during WWII?



You might be familiar with a recent story on the cover of Folio Weekly about stolen art and how it relates to the Cummer Museum. In recent years the Museum has learned of the unexpected provenance of a Meissen porcelain piece, as well as the Vanitas painting that hangs in the Semmes Gallery at the Museum.

On January 13th at 7 p.m., you won’t want to miss a very interesting talk led by the Cummer Museum’s Chief Curator, Holly Keris. Join her as she discusses artwork and other cultural property looted by the Nazis during WWII and how the present day impact on the Museum. This free talk is first come, first seated and will be held in the Hixon Auditorium.


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Special Holiday Hours



The holidays are a great time to show off all the wonderful cultural organizations and unique places (like the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens… wink, wink!) around Jacksonville to your out-of-town guests! However, please  note some changes in the regular Museum hours for the Holidays.

Holiday Hours at the Museum:

  • Wednesday, December 24, will close at 2 p.m.
  • Will be closed the entire day Thursday, December 25
  • Wednesday, December 31, will close at 2 p.m.
  • Will be closed the entire day Thursday, January 1

The Museum will still be open for Florida Blue FREE Tuesdays from 4 to 9 p.m. on December23rd and 30th, so make sure to stop by and check out the Museum. Plus, enjoy Tapas and live music in the Cafe from Monica de Silva (December 23rd) and Lauren Fincham (December 30th).

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Don’t forget your 4-legged kids!



Written By: Lisa Cronin, Visitor Services Associate










Dear Santa,

When you’re making your list and checking it twice please know that I have been your faithful friend and companion. There are some “woof”derful things I would love to find in my stocking Christmas morning. Using Jax and Bones Business Buddy is perfect for when we go on neighborhood walks. No matter what mode of transportation you choose when we travel together the Mini Presto Pet Bowl will come in handy.   It is light weight, watertight, and space saving. I will certainly be the talk amongst my friends when they notice me wearing my Flashy Fido lightup collar and leash. Also, I could use some new rope toys by Good Karma to play with. Did you know Jax and Bones donates a portion of the proceeds from their Good Karma toy sales to rescue groups supporting homeless animals find forever homes? I know your elves are persistently working to fill all the requests so just in case they run short on time I wanted to let you know that all these items can be found at the Cummer Shop.


Your pet

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Art Adventure: Watercolor Seascape




Saturday | 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Members $10, Non-members $15

Students will create their own watercolor paintings in the tradition of British artists featured in the special exhibition from The Cummer’s permanent collection.

Join us the third Saturday of each month for studio classes in painting, printmaking, collage and construction with changing themes. Projects will be completed within one class period. Ages 6 to 12. Class size is limited. To register for classes see below. For further information please call 904.355.0630 or email

Click HERE to register for this class.

(Please note that some dates may be subject to change around major holidays)

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