Margaret Acheson Stuart’s dream of a small, superior Museum of Fine Arts, in her adopted city of St. Petersburg, Florida took shape in 1962. That year a Board of Trustees was chosen, who then chose an architect, a museum secretary and eventually a director and advisory curator. At the same time, a few interested women were asked to establish a Women’s Committee. They drew up their plans, meeting in a dilapidated building at the corner of Beach Drive and Second Avenue Northeast in downtown St. Petersburg. Mrs. Stuart spent much of her time in the old building- the predecessor of the present Museum of Fine Arts. In one corner of the building, she created an air of quality and charm with antique rugs and carefully chosen prints- a hint of her dreams for a future museum.
There is no record of how many women met on November 29, 1962. Mrs. Stuart, along with Rexford Stead, the first director, and Horace Jayne, advisory curator, set the goals of the Women’s Committee. The Margaret Acheson Stuart Society was chosen for the name, by-laws were adopted, and officers were elected. Due to construction delays, the Museum of Fine Arts did not open until early 1965. Therefore, The Stuart Society is older than the museum itself.
Today, the Stuart Society prides itself as being the major fundraiser for the Museum of Fine Arts, having raised over $3 million since its inception. The funds have supported publications, operating expenses, major exhibitions, art acquisitions, art restorations, educational programs and capital improvements.
We invite you to enjoy the vast array of memories as you explore the history within the pages of the digital scrapbook. Enjoy!