Museum of Fine Arts (St. Petersburg, Florida)

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Museum of Fine Arts
Museum of Fine Arts St. Petersburg.JPG
Museum of Fine Arts (St. Petersburg, Florida) is located in Florida
Museum of Fine Arts (St. Petersburg, Florida)
Location within Florida
Established 1965
Location 255 Beach Drive NE
Saint Petersburg, Florida
Coordinates 27°46′30″N 82°37′56″W / 27.77497°N 82.63221°W / 27.77497; -82.63221
Type Art
Director Kristen A. Shepherd
Public transit access downtown Looper Trolley
Website Museum of Fine Arts


The MFA was founded by art collector and philanthropist Margaret Acheson Stuart (1896–1980). As its first president, Mrs. Stuart contributed significantly to the construction of the building and provided endowment funds through her estate to support annual operations and to maintain the beauty of the grounds. She also provided monies to acquire art and donated works from her collection. The Margaret Acheson Stuart Society, the Museum’s independent support organization, is named in her honor.

The city provided the four-acre waterfront site for the construction of the original building and The Junior League of St. Petersburg offered resources for The Great Hall. The building was designed by John Volk and Associates of Palm Beach, with a curving colonnade on Beach Drive that embraces the community. Chartered by the State of Florida in 1961, The MFA opened it Beach Drive doors to the public in 1965–the first art museum in St. Petersburg. The building is an architectural landmark on the downtown waterfront.

The Marly Room, an auditorium seating 220, and a sculpture garden, both made possible by Mrs. Stuart, were added to the building in 1974. Moreover, the late President of the Board Charles W. Mackey (Mrs. Stuart’s nephew and trustee Fay Mackey’s father) led a successful effort to double the galleries from ten to twenty and to construct a second floor for administrative offices, a classroom, and a library by 1989. The addition was designed by Harvard, Jolly, Marcet & Associates.

A $21 million expansion broke ground on Monday, December 4, 2006 and more than doubled the size of the museum. The new 33,000 square-foot Hazel Hough wing, on the north side of the building, was finished in 2008.[1][2] The expansion included a new cafe, an enlarged library and a bigger museum shop.

The Hazel Hough Wing, designed by Yann Weymouth and Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum (HOK), opened to the public March 22 and 23, 2008. At approximately 39,000 square feet, the wing more than doubled the Museum’s space.

The two-story glass Mary Alice McClendon Conservatory is now a centerpiece. It provides a community gathering place and has opened up the MFA to its spectacular setting. The second-floor Carol Upham Bridge connects the original building to the Mary and Fred Shuh Lobby and the wing. The MFA Café in the Conservatory and on the terrace provides a wonderful view of the bay. The Museum Store has been named the area’s best by the duPont Registry. Special exhibitions are now presented mainly in the Hazel Hough Wing, with a second-floor gallery devoted to photography and works on paper.

In 2013, the original galleries, The Junior League Great Hall, and the Marly Room were renovated and completely transformed under the direction of design advisor Jeff Daly. The Cyrus Fay Mackey and Howard Acheson Galleries adjacent to The Great Hall now display wood floors, as does the Gary and Gail Damkoehler Gallery leading to the Conservatory. Color was added throughout and augmented lighting was put in place. Windows facing Beach Drive were replaced with energy-efficient, storm-rated glass, encouraging visitors to look inside, day and night. In the Marly Room, a striking arched window at the back of the stage was reopened. Restoration of this architectural highlight, in conjunction with the adjacent membership and sculpture gardens, opens up the Museum even more to its lush, tropical setting.

The renovation project paved the way for the Museum’s 50th anniversary in 2015, and allowed the MFA’s treasures to be presented in fresh, imaginative ways. Rarely seen works came out of storage and joined audience favorites.

In 2017, the exterior of the building as well as the collection galleries were re-lit with LED lighting, and a reinstallation of European paintings in the Mackey Gallery transformed one of the most popular galleries at the Museum.

Throughout its history, six talented directors have led the Museum: Rexford Stead, Lee Malone, Michael Milkovich, John Schloder, Kent Lydecker, and the current Executive Director, Kristen A. Shepherd. Ms. Shepherd is the youngest and the first female Executive Director of the Museum.


The comprehensive collection of more than 20,000 objects includes major works by the French artists Monet, Morisot, Barye, Rodin, Corot, and Bourdelle, and the Americans Inness, Hassam, Bellows, O’Keeffe, Pearlstein and Andrew Wyeth. Also on view are ancient Greek and Roman, Egyptian, Asian, African, pre-Columbian, Native American art and objects. Decorative arts are integrated throughout the original building and featured in three galleries, as well. The Helen Harper Brown Gallery is dedicated to glass art, including Tiffany and Steuben. The Helen and Dick Minck Gallery showcases new media and a growing collection of contemporary art is on view in the Acheson Gallery.

The photography collection is one of the largest and most respected in the Southeast and has grown dramatically in the last few years with impressive, generous gifts from Ludmila and Bruce Dandrew and Dr. Robert L. and Chitranee Drapkin. To date, the Ludmila Dandrew and Chitranee Drapkin Collection comprises more than 15,000 images donated to the Museum. Selections from the photography collection are on view in the Miriam F. Acheson Gallery.

The museum has a distinguished record of presenting major special exhibitions which complement the permanent collection. They have included: Chihuly Across Florida: Masterworks in Glass (2004); Monet’s London, Artists’ Reflections on the Thames, 1859–1914 (2005), and Ancient Egypt: Art and Magic, Treasures from the Fondation Gandur Pour l’Art/Geneva (2011–2012).

The MFA received accreditation from the American Association of Museums (now the American Alliance of Museums) in 1973 and won reaccreditation in 1983, 1998, and 2010. This recognizes the high professional standards of the organization; fewer than 800 of America’s estimated 21,000 museums are accredited.


  1. ^ "Floridian: Museum's new view". Retrieved 2016-05-09. 
  2. ^ "Newspaper Archives | - Tampa Bay Times". Retrieved 2016-05-09. 

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