The Founders

The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello and Michael A. Mennello

About Marilyn Mennello

Marilyn first happened upon Earl Cunningham and his paintings in 1969. After recognizing the beauty in his paintings, she was determined to share her enthusiasm for the paintings with the world. She arranged for exhibitions of his work and displayed his paintings in her home, which became a gallery devoted to the artist. Years later, when she founded The Mennello Museum of American Folk Art in Orlando, Cunningham’s works were given pride of place there. Later the Mennellos expanded and renamed this handsome showcase The Mennello Museum of American Art so they could widen its scope, but Earl Cunningham remains a constant there, always available for visitors to discover.

The Smithsonian exhibition and catalog were dedicated to Marilyn Logsdon Mennello, a woman of great vision and compassion. Though she did not live to see the completion of the project she inspired, her spirit was felt on every page and in each gallery where the paintings were hung. It could not have been accomplished without the extraordinary help of Michael A. Mennello, who consulted on every aspect, encouraged collectors to lend their best examples, and garnered support to make everything as fine as possible.

 

About Michael A. Mennello

Michael A. Mennello is a businessman and art collector. He was born in Princeton, New Jersey, graduated from Hun Preparatory School in Princeton, New Jersey, and attended Princeton University, Rider College and Interboro Institute. He began his business career in 1956 as Administrative Assistant to Sidwinn Schwinn, CEO of Advertising and Marketing Consultants, New York, NY, and in 1959 became director of Store Control, Research and Security for Food Fair Stores, Miami, Florida. After twenty years working in south Florida and the Bahamas, Michael moved to Winter Park, Florida, and soon purchased The Home and Hobby House (established in 1945). He has been a business leader in Winter Park and Orlando since.

In 1977, Michael married Marilyn Wilson and together they began collecting Old Master and French Impressionist paintings. Together, beginning in the early 1980s, they began to find and preserve the work of American artist, Earl Cunningham. With their efforts, the Cunningham collection has toured throughout the country. Over 30 museum exhibitions were acquired by many museums as gifts from the Mennellos who wanted to ensure Cunningham has his spot in art history. The pair donated many of Cunningham’s paintings to museums including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, The Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC, The High Museum, Atlanta, GA, and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center, Williamsburg, VA, and others, establishing a national legacy, and eventually donating to the Mennello Museum of American Art in public private partnership with the City of Orlando. In the late 1980s, the Mennellos expanded their collection of American Art and supported museums with donations to Cornell Museum, Rollins College, the Orlando Museum of Art, and the Daytona Museum of Arts and Sciences. Museums in other parts of the country such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY and the Smithsonian American Art Museum have also benefited from their generosity.

Michael Mennello has long supported artists to include a traveling exhibition of Isabelle Rouault opening at the Maitland Arts Center and closing National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC, supported exhibitions of Florida artists with Orange County Courthouse and Orlando City Hall.

In 1999, The Florida Association of Museums awarded Michael and Marilyn Mennello the Museum Service Award for Outstanding Trustees, and in 2015, United Arts honored Michael and Marilyn Mennello with the John Meyer Tiedtke Lifetime Achievement Award for community leaders dedicated to the support of arts and culture.

Michael was a Founding Board of Governors of the Country Club of Heathrow. He serves on the Friends Board of Trustees of the Mennello Museum of American Art and was appointed a member of the Board of Visitors of the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. He is also a Member of the American Art Forum of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. and former member of the Bryant Fellows of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.