February 17 – Marietta Museum of Art & Whimsy

This afternoon, we visisted Sarasota's Marietta Museum of Art & Whimsy,

where an eclectic collection of paintings, stain-glass, sculpture, unusual wooden furniture and other art is on display.

The only disappointment is that 35mm and other cameras … other than cell phone cameras … are prohibited, making taking pictures in often highly contrast lightting a challenge.

Marietta Lee,

Founder, Curator and President of Marietta Museum of Art & Whimsy, Inc. began her education in Kentucky with an Associate of Science in Nursing and Emergency Medical Care, followed many years later, by a Master of Science in nursing from the University of South Florida. She loved helping people and the excitement of Emergency Room nursing as well as being an RN/EMT/Paramedic.  One dark night, while volunteering for the Jessamine County Rescue Squad in Kentucky, she and her partner were called to the scene of a small airplane crash. All 5 people were dead. There was no one to assist. It changed her life forever. The next day, as she scratched out shadows and images of the plane crash, she soon felt her spirits lift.  At age 32, she found a whole new direction in life through the process of making art.

She earned a Bachelor of Art from Eastern Kentucky University in 1981, moved to Florida in 1984, and earned a Bachelor of Fine Art from Ringling College of Art & Design in 1991. As a student, she visited many renown art museums and soon realized that women's artwork and humorous art were under represented. It just didn't seem fair. "If I could change one thing in my lifetime, this would be it!"  The seeds of change were planted.

She loved going to outdoor art shows and discovered a variety of American artists with fresh, colorful, creative and upbeat ideas. There was a sense of freedom and pride in their work.  They were true small business entrepreneurs. An artist herself, Ms. Lee, thought it would be fun someday to bring all these people together to display their work for everyone to see.

Family tragedy struck in 1994 when her father had a stroke. She spent the next 10 years involved with her parent's medical care. During this emotionally difficult time, she realized how important it was to get a short respite of 1 or 2 hours, looking at plants, talking with friends, and visiting museums to continue this care. It was also apparent that many of her Baby Boomer friends were tackling these same issues. We all have parents.  By 2004, both Mom and Dad passed.

In 2006, Marietta Lee founded the Marietta Museum of Art & Whimsy, Inc. named in honor of her Mother, Grandmother, and Niece. At first, it was a non profit, private operating foundation in Connecticut. The museum immediately began collecting artwork.  However, it was difficult to find a location for the museum in her old hometown of Guilford, Connecticut.  So, she turned her attention back to Sarasota where she still maintained a residence and knew so well of its diverse cultural appeal and reputation as an art friendly community.
Within a short time, in 2008, she purchased the present Museum site in Florida. In 2009, she returned to Florida as a full time resident and founded the (Florida) Marietta Museum of Art & Whimsy, Inc., transferred all museum assets from the Connecticut organization to the Florida organization, and terminated the Connecticut organization. She then began work on a huge remodel of the Sarasota Museum site including the wonderful gardens.
When she began this  museum, she was thinking of Baby Boomers but it also quickly became a Grandparent Museum! Not specifically a children's museum, but a great place for grandparents and parents to teach their children about museums.  A place to enrich our lives with all the colors and sensations of art.  

"Initially, I wanted to create a friendly environment where people, especially adults, could relax and forget their problems even if only for a brief moment, to slow down, smell the roses, and enjoy the present."  It has become a Smiley Place.

As you exit your car in th eparking lot, you are confronted with some of the excellent, entertaining and brightly painted sculptures …

which then continues as you near the museum building.

Once inside the museum … whose collection is predominatly from local artists … is changed every summer.

Even the Men's

and Ladie's rooms are decorated.

Among the hundreds of items on display, there was only one with a political bent … a urinal high on the wall in the Men's room with a photo of Jane Fonda's Hanoi Jane" picture serving as a target.

The interior patio and garden area was also filled with more fun and interesting sculptures.

Little Jack Horner


An incredibly carved wooden loveseat made from a single piece of natural wood

Two surprisingly comfortable benches made of welded horseshoes

And, even American Nauturalist William Beebe's original Bathysphere

Walls:                            1” thick Cast Steel

Window:                      3” thick Fused Quartz

Weight:                        2.25 tons

Entrance Hatch:        400 lbs.

Cable Length:            3,000 feet

Cable Weight:            1.35 tons

Period orf Use:         1930-34

Deepest Descent:      3,028 feet in  1934  (a depth record not broken until 1949)

There is no way anyone could get either of us in this device … even when welded to a permanent stand!

While we have no "bucket list" we are continually amazed about the number of things to do and places to visit just in west central Florida.

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