How It All Started:
Marietta Lee, Founder, Curator and President of Marietta Museum of Art & Whimsy, Inc. began her education in Kentucky with an Associate of Science in Nursing and Emergency Medical Care, followed many years later, by a Master of Science in nursing from the University of South Florida. She loved helping people and the excitement of Emergency Room nursing as well as being an RN/EMT/Paramedic. One dark night, while volunteering for the Jessamine County Rescue Squad in Kentucky, she and her partner were called to the scene of a small airplane crash. All 5 people were dead. There was no one to assist. It changed her life forever. The next day, as she scratched out shadows and images of the plane crash, she soon felt her spirits lift. At age 32, she found a whole new direction in life through the process of making art.
She earned a Bachelor of Art from Eastern Kentucky University in 1981, moved to Florida in 1984, and earned a Bachelor of Fine Art from Ringling College of Art & Design in 1991. As a student, she visited many renown art museums and soon realized that women’s artwork and humorous art were under represented. It just didn’t seem fair. “If I could change one thing in my lifetime, this would be it!” The seeds of change were planted.
She loved going to outdoor art shows and discovered a variety of American artists with fresh, colorful, creative and upbeat ideas. There was a sense of freedom and pride in their work. They were true small business entrepreneurs. An artist herself, Ms. Lee, thought it would be fun someday to bring all these people together to display their work for everyone to see.
Family tragedy struck in 1994 when her father had a stroke. She spent the next 10 years involved with her parent’s medical care. By 2004, both Mom and Dad passed.
In 2006, Marietta Lee founded the Marietta Museum of Art & Whimsy, Inc. named in honor of her Mother, Grandmother, and Niece. At first, it was a non profit, private operating foundation in Connecticut. The museum immediately began collecting artwork. However, it was difficult to find a location for the museum in her old hometown of Guilford, Connecticut. So, she turned her attention back to Sarasota where she still maintained a residence and knew so well of its diverse cultural appeal and reputation as an art friendly community.
Within a short time, in 2008 she purchased the present Museum site in Florida. In 2009, she returned to Florida as a full time resident and founded the (Florida) Marietta Museum of Art & Whimsy, transferred all museum assets from the Connecticut organization to the Florida organization, and terminated the Connecticut organization. She then began work on a huge remodel of the Sarasota Museum site. The dream came true when the museum officially opened its doors October, 2010 at 2121 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, Florida.
Ms. Lee passionately shares, “It became clear when we started hanging the first exhibit, that this eclectic collection of paintings, sculpture, and mixed media demonstrated that Art can be inclusive rather than exclusive. I think that’s why its so appealing to people of all ages. What is truly unique about this museum is that about half of the artists are women, half are men and most of the artists are alive! I wanted to create a space where people, especially adults, could relax and forget their problems even if only for a brief moment, to slow down, smell the roses, and enjoy the present.”
“This is the most fun and uplifting museum in Sarasota. Just loved everything about it! We will return many times I am sure!” – Judy Mealey
“Delightful, magical and wondrous. So many different art styles and everything so very uplifting.. the gardens are fabulous. A must see for sure.” – Judi Light
“Whimsy, Wonder and Wow! This place is simply delightful in every way! A must see! Inside and outside Marietta Museum-Art & Whimsy is a visual overload of wonder!”- brennanlane