The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens announced Tuesday the beginning of a $4.5 million renovation project which will give the front entrance a complete new look and almost double the size of its riverfront gardens.
“If anything, it was past time for us to do this work,” museum director Hope McMath told WOKV.
The Cummer will convert its three parking lots along Riverside Avenue into a single lot, with trees and landscaping. It will have permeable paving, allowing them to capture a lot of rain water and prevent water runoff into the river.
McMath has called the current parking lots “the ugliest plot of property anywhere in Riverside.”
Also along Riverside Avenue in front of the building, they plan to build a deck under two huge live oak trees. It will provide 35 to 40 outdoor seats for the museum’s Tea Cup Café. A sculpture garden will be built at the north end of the campus in front of the Art Connections building.
“We’re also very interesting in trying to be more accessible and more welcoming to more people, and transforming the front of the museum along Riverside Avenue is a major piece of that,” McMath said.
The Cummer is also adding The Olmsted Garden to its three others located along the St. Johns River. This will add another 200 feet of garden, nearly doubling what is already open to the public.
McMath said the land used to belong to the Cummer family “and literally has sat fallow for decades.” The land will be restored.
Additionally, the hedges that run between the sidewalk and the museum will be torn out and the sidewalk will be widened to ten feet.
The Cummer says they plan to complete the entire project by the fall of 2013. They’ve reached 90% of their fundraising goal for the project.
McMath said the funds came mostly from individual donations, Florida Department of State grants, and grants from the Bureau of Historic Preservation and the Division of Historical Resources.