Photos courtesy of the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts

Spring is springing in the ‘Burg which means it’s time for the annual Art in Bloom event at the Museum of Fine Arts! As part of our local landscape, this exhibit presents a living four-day floral art installation pairing some of the Bay area’s finest floral artists with works of art throughout the museum. 

What makes this event so special is its unique combination of art and nature and the way it creates an immersive experience for museum visitors. The pieces add a multi-sensory encounter for those who attend. Intermingled with the scent of flowers is a contrast of colors, shapes, and textures. 

“Flower arrangements have the captivating ability to introduce a fresh perspective to the art, drawing in a new and appreciative gaze,” says Darcy Schuller, Chief Strategy Officer. “It encourages the viewer to look longer, understand how the flower designer interpreted the art: Are they mimicking the same colors? Are certain shapes being identified? Are they using the vessel in a creative way? Everyone has an emotional connection with flowers, and it pulls the viewer in and enhances their engagement with the artwork. After attending, the event swiftly transforms into an annual favorite, a must-see experience that draws visitors back year after year. We consistently report record attendance during this four-day display each year.”

Much of the coordination for the event falls to the members of The Margaret Acheson Stuart Society. Initially founded in 1962, this non-profit organization supports the MFA working to stimulate public interest and participation in museum activities. The society hosts several large fundraising events each year that help support major exhibitions, art acquisitions, art restorations, educational programs, capital improvements, and operating expenses. The first outreach with this specialized exhibit manifested in 1997 with the first Art in Bloom.

“One of our members, the late Mary B. Perry, a gardener and avid Ikebana designer, learned about a similar floral event at another museum,” says Rebecca Malowany, President of the Margaret Acheson Stuart Society. * “There are a lot of moving parts and supporting events. The Stuart Society plans, organizes, and helps execute the many happenings of Art in Bloom.”

The amount of work that goes into this temporary living exhibit is extensive. The museum curator selects specific artworks throughout the museum. A group of 40 professional florists, members of garden and Ikebana clubs, along with skilled DIY flower arrangers, bring their expertise to interpret these works of art through floral compositions. The floral designers submit their preference for which work to reinterpret into bloom, thus creating a unique exhibit each time.

As any good art historian knows, flowers not only represent beauty in art, but are also a reminder of the ephemeral – like the blossoms, this exhibit only lasts for a limited time. These floral interpretations will be displayed in the museum’s galleries and gardens Thursday, April 4 through Sunday, April 7, and are included with the cost of museum admission. 

Additionally, there are also three supporting events. Flowers After Hours – “Flamingle” (Thursday, April 4, 6 to 9 pm) allows attendees to see a preview of the floral arrangement in the galleries. A live Caribbean band will play and hors d’oeuvres are included. 

The Art in Bloom “Palm Beach Retreat” Luncheon will be held at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club beginning at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, April 5. Tickets include a formal sit-down lunch along with an entertaining program by celebrity florist Canann Marshall. 

Conversations with the Designers will be held on Sunday, April 7, from 2 to 4 pm at the MFA. This event provides an intimate opportunity to meet the Art in Bloom floral designers who will discuss their individual interpretations. 

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* Editor’s Note: This quote was erroneously attributed to Darcy Schuller in the print issue. We have corrected the error here.