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Jax Daily Record Friday, Feb. 10, 200612:00 PM EST

Cummer Museum continues to reshape its facility

by: Caroline Gabsewics

by Caroline Gabsewics

Staff Writer

In November the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens completed the new Thomas H. Jacobsen Gallery that showcases the museum’s new focus on American Art. Three months later the museum has begun construction on another expansion to the museum, the new Central Building.

Construction began this week on the new 17,124-square foot Central Building. The architectural design is being done by Rink Design, Inc. and construction is being executed by Elkins Constructors, Inc. The Central Building was funded by trustee contributions.

“Looking at all of these renovations, they are being done for our internal service needs as well as visitor amenities,” said Maria Haynes, manager of marketing and public relations for the Cummer Museum. “(The renovations) create a much better visitor experience.”

Haynes said the project will take about 10 months to complete entirely. Once finished, the new building will also include 5,500 square feet of new exhibition space.

“We will be able to accommodate traveling and special exhibits,” said Haynes.

The two-story Central Building will be available for the museum to use in October. The building will be behind the museum’s Art Connections building where the old loading docks are located. The first floor will include a new loading dock, receiving area, kitchen, elevator and additional restrooms. Most of the second floor will be used to store works of art and other museum supplies. A section of the second floor will connect to the administrative offices on the second floor of the original building.

Haynes said the expansion is part of an overall plan to incorporate the Woman’s Club (which the museum acquired last February) and the adjacent Garden Club, all with a central architectural theme and aesthetic look. There is another need,

“We are a good-sized museum, but we have a need for more social space,” she said.

The main entry to the new gallery space will be through the museum’s main entrance on Riverside Avenue. The gallery will also be connected to the Thomas H. Jacobsen Gallery and the Stein Gallery. The new gallery will have large windows that will look out onto the Italian and Olmsted Gardens.

Once the building is complete, the Cummer will officially open the building with the December exhibition of “Temples and Tombs: Treasures of Egyptian Art from the British Museum.”

The construction of the new building is a part of the museum’s plan to renovate and expand its current space for more art galleries as well as accommodate the museum’s service needs.

“All of the improvements across the board provide more public space, visitor amenities and give us another way to present art,” said Haynes.

Even though most of the construction is in the back part of the museum, visitors may come across temporary gallery closings to protect the art, but the museum will remain open through the renovations.

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