For many nonprofits, particularly museums, the COVID-19 pandemic prompted organizations to hit the pause button on their plans, waiting to resume progress until after the crisis is over.
But at the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, where I serve on the Board of Trustees as Treasurer, we’ve kept moving forward. In fact, we hit the gas pedal on a massive interior renovation that has reinvented the visitor experience.
The newly renovated Rococo Gallery at the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg houses European art from the 13th-18th century.
The Board decided to take advantage of being closed during COVID-19 to accelerate our plan to fully renovate the collection galleries of the museum, which houses the largest encyclopedic art collection in Florida. The collection includes works of art from ancient times to the present day and from around the world, and the photography collection is one of the largest and finest in the Southeast.
The renovation, which had been part of board and staff planning sessions for months, was begun in the spring and completed in October.
For nonprofits, we find that having highly engaged businesspeople on boards can be a major asset, both in supplying business knowledge and helping to find ways to raise money for organizations. At Hancock Whitney, we are involved with various cultural institutions and we take these roles seriously.
At the MFA St. Petersburg, the renovation transformed the original 12,000-square-foot collection galleries, allowing the diverse collection to be seen in deeper contexts of both art and history, which has been a goal of our Executive Director and CEO, Kristen Shepherd, since she first arrived at the museum in 2016. Not even a worldwide pandemic can stop our board and staff in its goal of continually improving the MFA.
The changes to the museum space focus on both visitor experience and scholarship. MFA visitors who have been to the museum before will rediscover the encyclopedic collection, which spans 5,000 years of art history. New visitors will for the first time see one of Florida’s premier art history collections. For a look of the renovation, watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgbXaI4lel0
In addition to ramping up its renovation plans, the museum largely maintained staff levels – bringing everyone together for this major renovation effort. The MFA employs nearly 30 full time staff of which 5 are curators with expertise across many categories of art.
The MFA, St. Petersburg’s first and largest art museum, is located downtown at 255 Beach Drive NE. Admission tickets must be reserved online for timed entry in accordance with the museum’s COVID-19 safety measures. For more information, visit https://mfastpete.org/