Mennello Museum Gala Celebrates 20th Anniversary and Honors Founders Marilyn L. and Michael A. Mennello

Orlando, FL — January 10, 2018

Each year, the ArtEvents Council of the Friends of the Mennello Museum of American Art hosts an elegant gala to raise funds for the Mennello Museum. Funds raised from the Gala directly supports exhibitions, education programs, and publications, as well as helps the museum achieve its mission to serve our community, support artists and advance American art and ideas across Central Florida and beyond. An Evening with Fabulous Friends Gala is one of the most elegant galas that supports the arts in Orlando.

Step back in time to the elegant 1920s at An Evening with Fabulous Friends Gala on Saturday, March 3, 2018, at The Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort. The Friends of the Mennello Museum of American Art, together with Executive Director Shannon Fitzgerald, invite you to join us for an evening celebrating 20 years of the Mennello Museum and the passion of its founders, The Honorable Marilyn Logsdon and Michael A. Mennello.

The Mennello Museum is thrilled to announce the 2018 Gala honorees, Marilyn L. and Michael A. Mennello, for their leadership in creating an institution for incredible national and local artists to share their work with our community and beyond. The Mennello Museum recognizes and celebrates their passion, dedication and support over the past 20 years.

“Please join us for a celebration of two decades of providing beautiful art to the City of Orlando and to honor our two founders, Marilyn and Michael Mennello,” says Walter A. Ketcham, Friends of the Mennello Museum Vice President.  “It promises to be a very memorable evening highlighted by special exhibits for sale by some of our best local artists.”

In 2018, the Mennello Museum of American Art will celebrate its 20th anniversary as a cultural resource in Central Florida. The museum opened its doors in November 1998 with the assistance of founders Marilyn L. and Michael A. Mennello, in alliance with then Mayor, Glenda Hood, and the City of Orlando. The Mennello Museum of American Folk Art was founded to preserve, exhibit, and interpret an outstanding permanent collection of paintings by Earl Cunningham, donated by Marilyn L. and Michael A. Mennello.

“For two decades the Mennello Museum of American Art’s steadfast commitment to presenting important art and educating the public while being accessible to all has been undeniable. Despite its modest size, it’s a remarkable institution that truly enriches Orlando’s cultural landscape through diverse programs, an enviable permanent collection, and wonderfully impactful visiting exhibitions. To say the Mennello Museum is a beloved community asset is an understatement.

The Mennello Museum is now poised to begin an exciting, new trajectory where big, innovative ideas are embraced and a visionary expansion will yield boundless potential for its future. The opportunity before us cannot be squandered; it is imperative we focus on growth and keeping this jewel relevant for generations to come. I wholeheartedly support this effort and, like so many others, know that creativity will continue to flourish along this path.”

—Mayor Buddy Dyer, City of Orlando

Over the past fourteen years, the Friends of the Mennello Museum and ArtEvents Council have raised funding critical to the growth and advancement of the museum’s exhibitions and education programs. Over the years, with the support of the Friends of the Mennello Museum, the leadership and support of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, and as a Smithsonian Affiliate, the museum has presented Central Floridians with extraordinary exhibitions organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Exhibitions include Pop Art Prints (2016), George Catlinʼs American Buffalo (2014), and African American Art: Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Era and Beyond (2013).

In 2017, the museum updated its mission to celebrate outstanding traditional and contemporary American art and artists across a broad range of disciplines to reflect the rich diversity of American art.  Recent diverse exhibitions include Albert Paley: Forged Works (2016), Grounds for Exhibitions: Alice Aycock (2016), Three American Sculptors: Alice Aycock, Deborah Butterfield, and Barbara Sorensen (2016), The Mennello Museum Invitational (2017); Bo Bartlett: American Artist (2017); The Beautiful Mysterious: The Extraordinary Gaze of William Eggleston (2017); and Time and Thought: Art of the United States from the Cornell Fine Arts Museum. The 2018 exhibition season includes Grace Hartigan: 1960-1965, The Perry Collection; When the Water Rises: Recent Paintings by Julie Heffernan; Jiha Moon: Double Welcome, Most Everyone’s Mad Here; Our Orlando & American Youth: Our Identity; and Bethany Collins: Erasure, Inaugural Emerging American Artist Series.

“The museum is at an exciting juncture in its now 20th year of serving our community with outstanding exhibitions of American Art and impactful education programs.  As we strive for excellence in delivering our mission and enriching lives, the time is right to reflect on the past 20 years to move forward on defining what an American Art Museum in Orlando can be in the 21st century.  As we determine the path for advancement, growth, and sustainability, I am grateful for the innovative leadership of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, the City of Orlando, and for the generous and necessary support of the Friends.  Thank you and I look forward to working together on mapping our important future!”

—Shannon Fitzgerald, Executive Director

As the Mennello approaches its upcoming 20th anniversary, we recognize and appreciate the support of the Friends of the Mennello Museum, City of Orlando, and our community in helping us accomplish so much.

“I am proud to share this museum with so many in our community and visitors alike. Our success and growth for nearly 20 years could not have happened without the dedication and hard work of the Friends of the Mennello Museum of American Art and the City of Orlando. It gives me great pleasure to experience the museum continue to advance, and to continue the legacy of my beloved Marilyn in carrying out the mission of the Mennello Museum.”

–Michael A. Mennello, Founder, the Mennello Museum of American Art

All artwork in the 2nd annual Mennello Museum Invitational exhibition, on view at the museum from January 19 through March 2, 2018, will also be featured and available for purchase at the Gala. The 2018 selected artists include Weronica Ankarörn, Stephen Bach, Susan Bach, Matthew Cornell, Genevieve DeMarco, Todd Fox, Peterson J. Guerrier, Saulius Jankauskas, Martha Lent, Anne Mayer, Roland Rockwell, Andrew Spear, Lillian Verkins, and Vickie Wilson. The artists have generously donated 50% of their proceeds to benefit the Mennello Museum. The Mennello Museum Invitational serves to support our local artists, provide visibility for their work and introduce them to new collectors while giving our community an amazing opportunity to build their collection of art.

Dine on an exquisite three-course dinner, dance the night away to the sounds of Michael Andrew, toast a glass of bubbly in our Champagne Lounge presented by The Fresh Market Mills Park, and take part in both our live and silent auction.

The signature artwork for the 2018 Gala, Lady in Kimono with Lighted Lanterns by Marguerite Stuber Pearson, is a favorite of Michael and Marilyn purchased at Sotheby’s.

Individual tickets start at $375.
To purchase tickets, please visit:

Interested in sponsorship? View our 2018 Sponsorship Packet.
To purchase sponsorship, please visit:

Interested in donating to our silent auction?
Review our 2018 Auction Packet.

For questions about tickets, sponsorship or silent auction donations, please contact:
Annelizabeth Atie 
407.246.4278 ext. 4860.


Marilyn L. and Michael A. Mennello

2018 Gala signature artwork:
Marguerite Stuber Pearson, Lady in Kimono with Lighted Lanterns, 1928, oil on canvas, 36 x 30 inches.


About the Museum
The Mennello Museum of American Art, owned and operated by the City of Orlando, is located on the beautiful shore of Lake Formosa in Orlando’s Loch Haven Cultural Park. The museum provides residents and visitors welcoming opportunities to understand and value creativity through innovative experiences with art further connecting it to nature and communal gathering. Our goal is to encourage creative and diverse experiences with art that nurtures audiences while reflecting the dynamic relationship between art and society.  In addition to housing the permanent collection of folk modernist Earl Cunningham, the museum presents temporary exhibitions that feature a broad range of American art from traditional to contemporary practices. 

On view beginning January 19, 2018, Grace Hartigan: 1960-1965, The Perry Collection and The Mennello Museum Invitational 2018.

View all of our upcoming events.

The Mennello Museum is located at 900 E. Princeton Street, Orlando, FL 32803. · ·


The exhibitions and the Mennello Museum of American Art are generously supported by the City of Orlando and Friends of The Mennello Museum of American Art. Additional funding is provided by Orange County Government through the Arts & Cultural Affairs Program and United Arts of Central Florida. Sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture.

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Francesca Ascione
Marketing & Graphic Design Coordinator
The Mennello Museum of American Art and Public Art, City of Orlando