Photo by Joel Plotkin
“I never would have dreamt six months ago that I would be here, but seeing the tremendous opportunity that exists, I can’t imagine being anywhere else,” says John C. Rumm, executive director of the Nemours Mansion & Gardens since July. “Sharing this campus with a major children’s hospital provides a terrific connection to leverage those assets and have them work together.”
A lifelong student of the du Pont family and estates, Rumm, a native of Ohio, earned his master’s and doctorate in American history from the University of Delaware and obtained a four-year fellowship at Hagley Museum and Library’s graduate program in the early 1980s.
Before returning to Delaware, Rumm had worked more than a decade at the Smithsonian Institution and seven-plus years at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyo. Now he oversees the care of Nemours’ 77 rooms, lush gardens and more than 100 acres of naturalistic grounds.
Nemours was the first mansion of its kind in Delaware to be maintained for public benefit. Its collection features more than 110,000 works of art, furniture and antique automobiles. Rumm calls it “an enormous presence.” Yet to him the philanthropic mission and the grounds are of the utmost importance.
“Come to Nemours if you want to lift your spirits,” the new director says. “There is spectacular beauty outdoors, which I plan to focus my attention on, but there is also an inspiring story of a man who had enormous obstacles to overcome, but in the end had this great philanthropic nature to heal children. You can’t find inspiration like that anywhere else but here.”