Museums in St. Petersburg were put into the spotlight on Sept. 24 with the annual ArtsAlive! Festival 2016. The day celebrates the diverse and dynamic arts and cultural scene that exists in St. Pete by allowing free entry into some museums and discounted prices for others.
Surrounded by the scenic and active community that is downtown St. Pete, the festival drew people from all walks of life and all corners of Florida. St. Petersburg has received numerous accolades for its arts community. It is ranked as the #1 Arts Destination among mid-size cities, #1 in the Top 10 Towns for Craft Lovers, and named America’s Top 2013 ArtPlace. The event ran from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and included nine participating museums and venues each with their unique displays. The museums were the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum, Florida Holocaust Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg Museum of History, and The Dali Museum. The venues included Creative Clay Cultural Arts Center, Morean Arts Center, Morean Art Center for Clay, and Florida CraftArt Gallery.
The Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American History Museum features exhibits that highlight national African American history and was named after the man who inspired Black History Month. For ArtsAlive, they collaborated with African American Museums across the country to celebrate the grand opening of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Their theme was “Lift Every Voice St. Pete.” Along with special exhibits, they had performances of song, dance, spoken word, drumming, and more. They also served continental breakfast to visitors.
The mission of the Florida Holocaust Museum is to preserve the memory of Holocaust, as well as to educate viewers, preventing future instances of hatred and intolerance. They showcased their permanent exhibit, “History, Heritage, and Hope,” as well as two new exhibits called “Reflections on Man’s Fate: Artwork by Judith Weinshall Liberman” and “Women of Ravensbrück: Portraits of Courage.” The “Reflections on Man’s Fate” exhibit featured paintings and textile works by Judith Weinshall Liberman, an Israel-born artist who came to America after completing high school. Her work focuses on the state of mankind and the human condition, especially the magnitude and horror of one of history’s darkest periods. Another female-driven exhibit, the “Women of Ravensbrück: Portraits of Courage” is done by artist Julia Terwilliger, which documents the horror of Ravensbruck, the Nazi’s major concentration camp for women.
Women from a variety of nationalities and religious backgrounds were imprisoned at Ravensbruck and, subjected to unspeakable horrors, few survived. The exhibit is focused specifically on the women of Ravensbruck and their experiences throughout the Holocaust, shown through a unique collection of art, photographs, and historical artifacts.
The Museum of Fine Arts, founded by art collector and philanthropist, Margaret Acheson Stuart, showcased collections of work done by Monet, Cezanne, Morisot, Renoir, and many others. Their latest addition called “Shana Moulton: Journeys Out of the Body” highlighted work by artist Shana Moulton, who uses an alter ego, Cynthia, to explore topics of health and medicine.
For the festival, St. Petersburg Museum of History featured “Cuba, The Natural Beauty” by Florida photographer Clyde Butcher, the works of modern Cuban artists: Los Carpinteros and Ibrahim Miranda, as well as a collection of photos of Cuba submitted by the Tampa Bay community. Their permanent exhibits included “Schrader’s Little Cooperstown,” which is the World’s largest collection of autographed baseballs, “Life, Death & the Afterlife,” which is an authentic 3000-year-old Egyptian mummy and a replica of King Tut’s Tomb, and “Flight One Gallery,” which explores the World’s first airliner and the birth of commercial aviation.
The Dali Museum offered free admission to Florida residents. This museum celebrates the life and work of Salvador Dali (1904-1989) and features works from the artist’s entire career. The collection included over 2,000 works including 96 oil paintings, many original drawings, book illustrations, prints, sculpture, photos, manuscripts and an extensive archive of documents. The newest exhibit, “Dali Revealed,” includes 48 archival photographs taken by French photographer Robert Descharnes, a close friend and confidant of the Dali’s. This exhibit reveals moments of Dali’s daily life, his wife Gala, their friends, and collectors. Highlights include candid moments at Dali’s home and in his studio, boating, and even at a bull fight. One particularly notable image captures the artist at work on his monumental painting “Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea” in his New York residence. These photographs have not been on display for more than ten years and provide a rare glimpse into the extraordinary life of this extraordinary man.
Unfortunately, the Morean Arts Center was not available for viewing because it was closed until Oct.
The Honors Program organizes a trip each year to go to the festival. This year about 25 students were in attendance, and all seemed to enjoy the day.
“It was a great experience, and I really enjoyed exhibits in the Museum of Fine Arts. Overall, it was a great being out and about in St. Pete, and lunch by the pier was a great ending to the day,” said Joey Williams, a sophomore accounting major.