Sometimes we can take the arts a little too seriously, but the delightful Marietta Museum of Art and Whimsy in Sarasota aims to redress the balance. This uniquely different Museum and Sculpture Garden focuses on light-hearted paintings, sculpture, and artworks in a range of different mediums. Something else to smile about is that admission to this non-profit organization is free, although donations are always appreciated to keep this lovely museum operating.
History of the Marietta Museum of Art and Whimsy
The Museum Founder and Curator is Marietta (Mary) Lee, was an emergency room nurse for many years and she used art as a means of de-stressing. Her desire to share her collection and love of art with others led to her starting this beautiful attraction.
The museum is hard to miss on North Tamiami Trail as the exterior is painted bright pink with “Key West” accents.
Within the museum is a Lee Family Arch covered in seashells, gems, crystals, pearls and semiprecious stones as well as personal memorabilia donated by the family. Look carefully and you will spot watches, stick pins, earrings, lapel pins, fishing lures and tie tacks. The arch honors the Lee and Fagan families and recognizes the ongoing work that goes into creating and sustaining this remarkable museum.
The gallery itself has many unusual and different artworks such as a mosaic mirror in the ladies room offering choices of “who will I be today”. The gallery even has a sound and light show so that when you talk or exclaim at something, the lights on the walls and ceiling react with a crazy dance too!
Whimsical Sculpture Garden
The eclectic collection of exhibits spills outside into the sculpture garden where you can admire graceful pink flamingoes, a herd of flying pink pigs and a spinning ballerina in a pose entitled “Lace Slipper.” This beautiful art collection is arranged beneath a shady canopy of live oaks with black bamboo, vibrant heliconia, orchids and many other exotic plants and climbers.
Children will appreciate the stainless steel rocket ship just landed from Mars and looking strangely at home amidst the flowering foliage, or the bright yellow bathysphere (spherical deep-sea submersible) prototype which was tested off the coast of Bermuda. Get them to look out for the cool bench which looks like a toucan. They are sure to be on their best behavior once they spot the very realistic police officer. No need to tell them that “Art” is actually a soft sculpture too!
Hours of opening are limited to the winter season (end of October through end of May) and from 1pm to 4pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays only.
Whether you want a peaceful place to walk or a place to find inspiration in art and nature, you’ll find it at the Marietta Museum of Art and Whimsy. This unique family museum and garden is definitely well worth a visit, and as they say, “you’ll be tickled pink!”