It seems that the window of free city-sponsored art has closed. The Mennello Museum of American Folk Art has decided to charge a $2 admission after being gloriously free since its November 1998 opening. "The City Council has always asked us to raise some of our own operating costs," explains museum director Frank Holt. Until now the bill has been picked up by the city, after the bulk of the collection -- a group of paintings by Earl Cunningham -- was donated by Marilyn and Michael Mennello.
The museum is a beautiful space, with its walls painted intense colors and big windows overlooking a sculpture garden and lake. The setting is refreshingly serene -- an atmosphere that is helped by the (how should we put this?) lack of people. Will $2 per person really generate much money? "Not a significant amount," admits Holt, who says the museum is currently applying for grants. The goal is to build an acquisitions fund.