Melinda Nix Chavez, a longtime leader of cultural and business groups, has been named executive director of the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts. She replaces Joanne Milani, who held the post for four years and will become the museum's curator.
The feisty little museum in downtown Tampa is an unlikely success story that has often been overshadowed by the issues surrounding its much larger neighbor, the Tampa Museum of Art.
Founded in 2001 as the Tampa Gallery of Photographic Arts, it was tucked into a second-floor storefront in Old Hyde Park Village. In 2006 it changed its name and moved to 200 N Tampa St. in the heart of downtown.
Though the museum is still a small operation, its exhibitions have consistently been far more ambitious than its space would indicate. With the support of savvy, connected collectors, the museum has mounted shows that have ranged from explorations of photography's early roots to some of the most provocative work being done by contemporary international artists. Its education programs and membership have grown steadily.
Chavez, who most recently was executive director of Tampa Bay Businesses for Culture & the Arts, has also been the executive director of the Ybor City Museum Society and curator of education at the Henry B. Plant Museum. Her appointment and the addition of Milani as the museum's first full-time curator signal the museum's continued aesthetic growth and, Milani says, an eventual move to a larger space.
Lennie Bennett can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8293.