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The Mennello Museum receives its largest gift ever from founder Michael A. Mennello
John Sloan, Roof Chats, 1944/1950, tempera and oil varnish on panel, 16 x20 inches. Collection of the Mennello Museum of American Art, 2018. Gift of Michael A. Mennello.

ORLANDO, FLA.- The Mennello Museum of American Art is receiving its largest gift in the museum’s history from museum founder Michael A. Mennello, Winter Park collector, businessman, and philanthropist. Michael A. Mennello has promised extraordinary gifts of art from his private collection to the museum. This generous gift of 14 paintings and 5 sculptures includes work by world-renowned American artists that greatly enhance the permanent collection of the museum with examples of the finest work by critical American artists associated with the Ashcan School of Art, the prestigious Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and the Arts Students League, New York.

The gift, which will be gifted May 1, 2018 on what would be Marilyn L. Mennello’s 93rd Birthday, includes four significant works by John Sloan, three paintings by George Wesley Bellows, two paintings by George Luks, and beautiful single works by John White Alexander, Louis Ritman, Robert Henri, and Josephine (Jo) Hopper. The paintings were recently included in exhibitions at the Mennello Museum of American Art (2017) and Orlando Museum of Art (2018).

The gift includes four exceptional bronze sculptures by renowned contemporary artist Deborah Butterfield, the beloved horse sculptures, will honor founder Marilyn L. Mennello as they are beloved in great museums throughout the United States. Also included is Madam Lachaise, 1925, a bronze figurative sculpture by Gaston Lachaise an early 20th century artist most noted for his female nudes and beautiful bronze expressions.

In addition, Michael Mennello is sharing over 20 examples of early 20th Century painting and seminal works from his American Impressionist Collection. Masterpieces include work by renowned artists: Guy Carlton Wiggins, Lilla Cabot Perry, Pauline Lennards Palmer, Frederick Carl Frieseke, Henry Salem Hubbell, Louis Ritman, among others. One special highlight three Henry Salem Hubbell including his famous work Building of the House, 1930 that was featured at City Hall’s Rotunda for years. This gift, of more than $8,750,000.00 is appraised by Debra Force Fine Art, LLC, New York.

With this gift, Mayor Dyer announced his support for an extended term agreement with the museum from 30 consecutive years to 60 (from 2028 to 2058) and support plans with a commitment to allow for Museum expansion on adjacent city-owned land that would allow the current museum size to quadruple. To provide sustained support in the expanded museum Michael A. Mennello has established the Michael A. and The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello Foundation where posthumously, the Foundation will contribute 70% of it’s annual distributions to the Mennello Museum of American Art to further support the Museum’s art and education programming and in his planned giving has Bequest of a $1,000,000 donation to the Friends of Mennello Museum of American Art, Inc. from Michael A. Mennello posthumously to also be used for advancing Museum programming.

Founder Michael A. Mennello is overjoyed with this agreement with the City of Orlando and states: “This is my dream come true, one 20 years in the making. I am grateful for the visionary Mayor Buddy Dyer for helping me fulfill my dear Marilyn’s dream of a creating a museum with our treasured art collection and share it in perpetuity with the City of Orlando. The greatest joy of my life was assembling this fine collection of American art with Marilyn – and now I entrust it to the museum for generations to come.”

He continues: “With the blessing of our Mayor Buddy Dyer, we now have reached a new level of culture that will be appreciated and enhanced by all.”

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer expressed his appreciation for this generous donation: “Mr. Mennello’s vision and generosity is a shining example of the philanthropy our cultural institutions rely on to ensure sustainability and maintain the legacy. The City of Orlando and the Mennello Museum is truly grateful for this demonstration of support.” Mayor Dyer continues with the statement:

For two decades the Mennello Museum of American Art's steadfast commitment to presenting important art and educating the public while being accessible to all has been undeniable. Despite its modest size, it's a remarkable institution that truly enriches Orlando's cultural landscape through diverse programs, an enviable permanent collection, and wonderfully impactful visiting exhibitions. To say the Mennello Museum is a beloved community asset is an understatement.

The Mennello Museum is now poised to begin an exciting, new trajectory where big, innovative ideas are embraced and a visionary expansion will yield boundless potential for its future. The opportunity before us cannot be squandered; it is imperative we focus on growth and keeping this jewel relevant for generations to come. I wholeheartedly support this effort and, like so many others, know that creativity will continue to flourish along this path.

Shannon Fitzgerald, Executive Director, shares:

It is an exciting time to be in Orlando and be part of the cultural growth our community is experiencing across The City Beautiful. The Mennello Museum of American Art is a treasured Orlando institution and I look forward to its dynamic and stable future as we work hard to define what a museum of American Art can be in the early 21st century. We aim to honor our past and our founders while look to ways to remain relevant, assessable, enjoyable, and sustainable as one of the healthiest public-private partnerships in our community.

With the visionary leadership of Mayor Dyer, the museum is in a position to consider improving our current facilities and possibly building a new facility on the adjacent land. This possibility, with appropriate support, could help assure that the Mennello Museum of American Art has a bright future and continues to offers innovative and timely exhibitions, exciting and newly expanded community engagement initiatives, and include current and future collection development.

Michael Mennello’s generous gift is an exciting lead gift that I hope puts us on a strong path to advancement as such an expansion, conceptual and physical, is timely in the museum’s life cycle and will place us where we need to be as one of Orlando’s strongest cultural assets.

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