Art museum closes doors, transfers collections
It has been a prolonged process, but the Foosaner Art Museum in the Eau Gallie art district of Melbourne closed at the end of July. It took more than a year to finalize the closing of the museum, which was sold by Florida Institute of Technology to Orlando developer Northboro Builders Inc.
The museum had more than 5,000 items in its permanent collection. Nearly all were transferred to the Appleton Museum at the College of Central Florida in Ocala. Appleton has confirmed it has received the collection, but is withholding comment until it is ready to put it on display.
The only remaining loose end is the fate of two large pieces of art on the outside walls of the museum. One is a behemoth two-story tall steel object by artist Fritz Van Eeden. The other is Hot Rods by artist George Snyder. Both are attached to the exterior of the museum, and will be expensive to relocate, requiring cranes and oversized load trucks. Museum director Ashley Milliken says the museum is working with FIT on plans to remove the pieces and relocate them.
Northboro developers plan to demolish the building and erect a hotel and parking garage.
Foosaner has been around since 1978, and was purchased by FIT 10 years ago. While the museum had a loyal following in the Melbourne community, it was never profitable. Facing financial restraints, partially due to COVID-19, FIT decided over a year ago to close the museum and sell the property.
The museum’s permanent collection included works by German painter Ernest Oppler and the Enrique Conill Mendoza Collection of American Industrial Design. Contemporary artists included Van Eeden, Snyder and renowned Florida photographer Clyde Butcher.
The Ruth Funk textile art collection, which was housed at FIT, was recently closed and is part of the transfer to Appleton. There was a collection of NASA art and photographs from the moon landing era that did not go to Appleton, and will instead be housed on the FIT campus.
Fred Mays is a freelance writer and photographer who resides in Satellite Beach. He is a retired television journalist, and active on media issues with the Brevard Indian River Lagoon Coalition. His blog is www.floridaunplugged.net.