ST. PETERSBURG, FLA.-
The naming of the MFA
s spectacular glass Conservatory in honor of Mary Alice McClendon honors one of the most generous donors in the Museums history. This space, at 6,180 square feet, connects the original building and the Hazel Hough Wing and has opened up the MFA to its magical setting on the bay. It is now the Mary Alice McClendon Conservatory of the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg. Mrs. McClendon, a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees, and her late husband Doyle, a past trustee, provided substantial gifts for the construction of the Wing.
Mary Alice McClendon fell in love with this exceptional museum at first sight, said MFA Director Kent Lydecker. As a leader and an inspiration, she continues to have a major impact on the life of the MFA. The Board of Trustees and I now have the distinct pleasure to recognize her many contributions with this naming.
Mrs. McClendon individually and with her late husband has given many important artworks to the collection. They include the MFAs first work by Andrew Wyeth, Wisteria (1981), a watercolor, and Léon Bonnats Precious Moments (about 1880) and Jules-Joseph Lefebvres Portrait of Julia Foster Ward (1880), both large-scale paintings.
The McClendons also contributed extensively, along with others, to allow the Museum to acquire its first painting by Childe Hassam, The Home, Sweet Home Cottage, East Hampton, L.I. (1916), to celebrate the Museums 40th anniversary and the Collectors Circles 10th. Mrs. McClendon gave a Japanese Meiji-period vase in honor of now Director Emeritus Dr. John Schloder upon his retirement. She and Dr. Schloder worked closely together to enhance the collection during her five years as president of the Collectors Circle (2005-2010).
Mrs. McClendon has gifted additional decorative art objects from around the globe to the Museum. They include a virtuoso cameo glass Lily Vase (about 1890) by Thomas Webb & Sons (British), a gilt bronze lamp/sculpture, Le Jeu de lEcharpe (The Scarf Dancer), about 1900, by Agathon Léonard (French), and a polychrome plaster relief, The Orchid (Portrait of Mary Shephard Greene), about 1892, by Herbert Adams (American).
Music has also enriched Mrs. McClendons life. On March 24, 2008, part of the opening celebration of the Wing, the McClendons underwrote a critically acclaimed concert by the great Cleveland Orchestra at the Mahaffey Theater. The Cleveland played the Mussorgsky-Ravel Pictures at an Exhibition to mark this momentous occasion. The nearly sold-out performance raised impressive funds for the Museum and the Orchestra.
In addition, she is a member of the MFAs Marly Music Committee, including the planning committee, and serves on the Board of Consultants of the Florida Orchestra. She chairs the BOC Governance Committee.
The collection has always been Mrs. McClendons priority. She holds a BFA in sculpture from the University of Oklahoma and her MFA from George Washington University. She has brought her education and creative spirit to bear on her role as a collector and as a member of the Museums Accessions Committee.
Mrs. McClendon is known for her cordiality and volunteerism and has chaired or co-chaired the annual Collectors Choice gala in the spring. She was the chair this year for Collectors Choice XII on April 19, when the naming was announced. The Museum of Fine Arts would simply not be where it is today without her and her late husbands generosity and dedication.