One of St. Petersburg’s strongest art advocates and community leaders has retired. Kent Lydecker, executive director of the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), stepped down after six years at the helm so he can focus on recovering from heart surgery.
Lydecker has led the museum since 2010 and overseen numerous exhibitions and events including their 50th anniversary celebrations. In fact, the 50 Artworks for 50 Years campaign was so successful, Lydecker is credited with helping to add 140 new artworks to the collection.
The MFA’s golden anniversary in 2015 also included the Monet to Matisse exhibition, overseen by Lydecker, and The Stuart Society’s publication of the Food + Art cookbook, which included a frittata recipe from Lydecker.
“I always think a great work of art opens up the world and that can be true, it is true, for the visual arts. But it’s also true of beautiful creations of the culinary art,” Lydecker said during an October interview.
He said his philosophy for art and cooking are the same.
“Anybody can cook if they want to and anybody can make art if they want to,” Lydecker said. “And there’s not a person on the planet who doesn’t look with special love and care at the works that perhaps a grandmother did or that their own children have done.”
And that was true of Lydecker, who decorated his office not from the vast array of works available at the museum, but with framed artworks by his daughter Mary.
Lydecker was only the fifth executive director to lead MFA in its 50-year history, according to a museum news release. The chief curator, Jerry Smith, will serve as interim executive director while the MFA board does a national search for a new leader.