The Cummer Gallery of Art, built on the site of the home of Arthur Gerrish Cummer and Ninah May Holden Cummer, was dedicated at a glittering reception held on November 10, 1961.
One thousand guests attended, including Florida Governor Farris Bryant and Jacksonville Mayor Haydon Burns. Governor Bryant said that he “was moved to walk on tiptoes and whisper when confronting the magnificence of the museum.” He felt that “It is impossible to add to the luster, romance or significance…I know of no elevation of spirit in the history of Florida greater than that displayed here.” In the same vein. Mayor Bums added, “The people of Jacksonville have never received a gift comparable in generosity or beauty to the museum… a testament to the heritage of the past and representing the strength and character of those who were leaders of Jacksonville in the past.”
Guests enjoyed music by Gerson Yessin, pianist and members of the I Musici Society.
The artwork displayed consisted of the works acquired by the Cummers, as well as three special exhibitions: a collection of 51 etchings by the Scottish-American artist James McBey, now part of the Museum’s permanent collection, a selection of French paintings on loan from a New York gallery, and an exhibition of American art on loan from the National Academy of Design.