St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts

Filed under: Florida News,Just For Fun,St. Petersburg,Vacation Tips |

St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Florida - 22nd August 2015  (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

One of the most popular day visits or overnight stays for visitors to Central Florida is the Tampa / St. Petersburg area. It’s an easy one hour to ninety minute journey down I4 from the Orlando area and once there visitors have a plethora of choices available to them. For a start there is the popular Busch Gardens theme park but other choices include some of the best beach time in either the Clearwater or St. Petersburg areas.

St. Petersburg, in particular, has a wonderful coastline and some great beaches on the Gulf Coast. As great as that is, just a few short minutes drive away is Downtown St. Pete’s and it is an area that is reinventing itself and coming alive with some great restaurants, excellent nightlife and a wonderful marina setting on the ocean. Over the last couple of years we have talked about some of the things that are happening and some of the great things to see.

Today, we are focusing on the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts. The museum was originally founded by Margaret Acheson Stuart (1896-1980) and reflects her vision of providing outstanding examples of world art in an inviting, elegant setting. The Museum opened to the public in 1965 and is dedicated to serving all people by pursuing excellence in art from antiquity to the present through collection, exhibitions, and education for its diverse audiences.

St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Florida - 22nd August 2015  (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

The original wing of the museum was designed by architect John Volk. According to Volk, “a museum should give a feeling of permanence and that is what I have tried to do with this building.” But this museum is not intimidating, it welcomes you inside both its exhibition galleries and intimate gardens and encourages you to stay. After decades of incredible growth, in artwork and visitors, the Museum of Fine Arts embarked on an exciting expansion project. A national search found an architect that would respect the site as well as the beauty and integrity of the original signature building in Yann Weymouth, Senior Vice President of Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum, Inc. (HOK). HOK designed a  wing that enhanced the current Palladian-style building, while giving MFA the space to grow. The new two-story building sits adjacent to the original building on Beach Drive, facing Straub Park to the north.

Opened to the public in March 2008, the addition now houses the Special Exhibition Galleries, the Classroom, the Interactive Education Gallery, Library, Museum Store and the MFA cafe.

St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Florida - 22nd August 2015  (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

The museum has a permanent collection where you can discover 4500 years of civilization in thousands of objects extending from antiquity to present. The museum currently has two other exhibitions that are going on. The Five Decades of Photography at the Museum of Fine Arts featuring the Dandrew-Drapkin Collection which continues until 4th October and Images of the Floating World and Beyond: Japanese Woodblock Prints the concludes on 13th September. Both exhibitions are well worth a visit.

St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Florida - 22nd August 2015  (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

The museum is this year celebrating it’s 50th year and the Five Decades of Photography exhibit is the most expansive the museum has done yet. The museum’s collection has steadily grown to approximately 17,000 images, making it the largest and one of the most respected in the Southeast. Around 200 works are on view at the present timeand the photographers represented read like a “Who’s Who” in the art form: Henry Fox Talbot, Édouard Baldus, Alvin Langdon Coburn, Julia Margaret Cameron, Margaret Bourke-White, Berenice Abbott, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Weston, Edward Steichen, Lewis Hine, Henri Cartier-Bresson, André Kértesz, Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams, Minor White, Ilse Bing, Paul Strand, Aaron Siskind, Clarence John Laughlin, Richard Avedon, Jerry Uelsmann, Diane Arbus, Kenro Izu, and Cindy Sherman.

St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Florida - 22nd August 2015  (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

The images extend from the formative days of the medium to the early twenty-first century. They encompass fine art, photojournalism, portraits, breathtaking landscapes, and recent experimentation. It reveals why photography is one of our most vibrant and popular art forms.

With the support of Museum Founder Margaret Acheson Stuart, former curator and assistant director Alan DuBois, who held an MFA in photography from Indiana University, began forming the collection in the late 1960s and early 1970s. At that time, most museums did not even consider photography an art form worthy of being collected.

St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Florida - 22nd August 2015  (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

Five Decades of Photography takes visitors on an unforgettable journey through history and around the globe, with many of the most gifted photographers in the history of the art form as their guide. This is a crowning achievement of the Museum and of the discerning donors who strove for excellence. It is an incredible anniversary gift to the community.


Located upstairs on the second floor in the Paper Gallery you can find the Images of the floating World and Beyond exhibit.

Ukiyo-e, or “images of the Floating World,” depict hedonistic pleasures in ancient Japan—the world of geishas, kabuki actors, and sumo wrestlers. This exhibition introduces this transient world through Japanese prints of the eighteenth to nineteenth centuries by such celebrated artists as Utamaro, Hokusai, Hiroshige, and Yoshitoshi. It also explores the Japanese fascination with ghosts and demons, a love of landscapes, and images of heroic deeds by Japanese warriors.


With Japan’s opening to the West in 1854, Western style began to influence the country’s art and culture, reflected in prints of the Meiji Period (1868-1912). In turn, Japanese prints found their way to Europe and were admired by many artists, including Impressionists like Claude Monet, who developed a large collection.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, Japan experienced a print revival with shin-hanga (new prints). This continued traditional ukiyo-e themes and the collaborative workshop system, in which artists worked with carvers, printers, and publishers. At the same time, a different art movement, sosaku-hanga (creative prints), emerged. Inspired by modern, international currents, these artists remained the sole creators of their prints. Key examples are on view in the exhibition, which takes visitors into the twenty-first century and highlights the impact of Japanese printmaking in Europe and America today.

An ongoing exhibit is the William Pachner: Centenary.

This exhibition has been organized to celebrate the 100th birthday of William Pachner, a painter who has been tirelessly devoted to, in his own words, creating “work celebratory in praise of all life.” Pachner works in a painterly, expressive manner. He is not interested in literal representations, but in personal interpretation of the forces of nature filtered through the imagination.

Born in Czechoslovakia, Pachner studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna in the 1930s, and immigrated to the United States in 1939. Days later, the Nazis invaded his country and over the next six years all eighty members of his family were killed in concentration camps during World War II. Pachner had been working as art director at Esquire magazine, but upon hearing of his family’s fate in 1945, decided to focus on his artistic career: “From now on, I shall use whatever gifts I have to bear witness to my experience.”

In 1951 he moved to Florida, and for many years divided his time between the Tampa Bay-area and Woodstock, New York, where he currently resides. Pachner received the American Academy Arts and Letters Award in 1949; a Ford Foundation Award for Painting in 1959 and 1964; and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1960. His work has been included in exhibitions at Carnegie Museum of Art; Detroit Institute of Arts; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Florida - 22nd August 2015  (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

The cost to visit the museum is a very reasonable $17.00 for adults and $10.00 for children. The museum does have a great offer on Thursday nights though and after 5pm you can enjoy a leisurely stroll around the exhibits for just $5!

The museum is open to the public every day of the week with differing hours that you can find on the museums web site at and is located at 255 Beach Drive N.E.
St. Petersburg, FL 33701.

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