Adam Levine is the George and Kathleen Gibbs Director and CEO of the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens. He lives in Atlantic Beach.
As told to Maggie FitzRoy
Q: What are your duties in your job as director and CEO of the Cummer Museum?
A: I am responsible for the entire operation of the museum. My primary responsibilities are to formulate with the team and the board the strategy of the museum and to oversee the implementation of that strategy. In November, the board approved a 3-year strategic plan that will carry us through 2022. The plan focuses on growing the organization, maximally engaging the community, upgrading the quality of our programming and in so doing, activating the full potential of the organization.
Q: What can you tell us about those plans?
A: I believe the gardens are the greatest asset of the museum’s collection. I don’t see the art and gardens as separate. There are five strategic objectives, each of which have projects. The objectives are first, to build a platform for operational excellence. The Cummer is a gem that needs a little bit of polish. We don’t just want a good enough museum, we want a museum that is regionally and nationally recognized for excellence in every direction. Quality, access and fun are the three pillars around which we build all of our programming. Second, the quality objective is to enhance collection access, the gardens included. The third access objective is: remove barriers to access holistically. Fourth, related to fun, is to create multi-sensory and multi-generational experiences. The fifth objective is to center the visitor experience so when we design a program, we think about every aspect of how the visitor interacts with the museum.
Q: Tell us about your newest exhibition.
A: It’s called “Striking Power: Iconoclasm in Ancient Egypt.” This is an exhibition of 45 ancient Egyptian sculptures from the Brooklyn Museum of Art. It will be a stunning show. And of course, there’s a fascination with Egypt that we expect will draw broadly. It opens officially on the 31st of January.
Q: What are the oldest sculptures?
A: 2,500 BC. Some are small, some are quite large. We have a sarcophagus lid that is over life-size. There are arts in the exhibit of the dynasty of King Tut, the 18th dynasty.
Q: When did you move to Atlantic Beach?
A: I moved here last January 2019, from Toledo, Ohio, where I was Deputy Director Curator of Ancient Art at the Toledo Museum of Art.
Q: What is your educational background?
A: Undergraduate at Dartmouth, where I tripled majored in anthropology, art history and applied math. I have a masters and PhD. from Oxford. I was a Rhodes Scholar.
Q: Where did you grow up and what triggered your interest in your field?
A: I grew up in New York City. I was very fortunate to have parents who took me to museums growing up. I was fascinated from a very young age.
Q: What other exhibits are coming up at the Cummer?
A: We have a very exciting schedule that is more or less planned out through 2024. It’s a long list. The next exhibit is “Buddha and Shiva, Lotus and Dragon.” It’s a collection of Asian artworks from the John D. Rockefeller III collection at the Asia Society. Everything from 6th century BC to 19th century AD, tracing the diffusion of ideas across Asia and Southeast Asia.
Q: How do you like Florida?
A: I love living in Florida. It certainly helped moving here in winter and that we’re having this conversation in January. And the Jacksonville community has been very warm and welcoming.