The Mennello Museum of American Art staff, The Friends of The Mennello Museum of American Art and the City-appointed Mennello Museum Board of Trustees mourned the passing of founding Director Frank Holt who passed away August 2, 2016, after a brief illness.
Frank Holt led the City-owned Mennello Museum from its inception in 1998 until his retirement in 2015. As Executive Director, he curated the exhibits Jacob Kass, Painted Saws, American Folk Art Masters (that included outstanding loans of Edward Hicks, Horace Pippin, and William Edmondson’s work) , Jesse Aaron: Sculpture, Objects Seldom Seen, The Paintings of George Bellows, The Worlds of John Sloan: Gloucester and Santa Fe, Art of The Navajo, as well as exhibitions highlighting work from prominent local collectors and many exhibitions drawn from the permanent collections of the museum and Orlando’s Public Art Collection.
Holt’s exhibitions were featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Art and Antiques and American Art Review among others. He served as the museum liaison working with the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) on the creation of the exhibit Earl Cunningham’s America, which opened in Washington, D.C., and then traveled to the American Folk Art Museum, New York City; the Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York; and the Mennello Museum of American Art, Orlando. He was critical in stewarding the museum in becoming a Smithsonian Affiliate, a distinction enjoyed by our current audiences in the presentation of Pop Art Prints: Selections from the Collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Founder Michael Mennello shares that “Frank was so wonderful and a great curator who shared so many thoughtful exhibitions with our community. We are all going to miss him tremendously.”
Before working with Michael and Marilyn L. Mennello on establishing the museum, Frank served the City of Orlando as Public Art Manager in building the Public Art Collection, now the largest public-art collection in Florida. “He fused just about every aspect of city life with art,” said Frank Billingsley, Chief of Staff to Mayor Buddy Dyer in The Orlando Sentinel. “His stamp is all across our city. He will be terribly missed, but his work is a legacy for us here in Orlando to enjoy for years to come.”
Frank’s husband, Bob Melanson, established the Frank Holt Memorial Fund through Strengthen Orlando, Inc. to provide support for the museum’s art collection and plans to launch it at the Celebration. We look forward to celebrating Frank’s achievements and friendship.