AST Exhibits Creates Western theme for Mennello Museum

Kiva fireplace in our studio. Fabrication complete and ready for installation.

The Mennello Museum of American Art in Orlando, Florida, relied on the skill of AST Exhibits when it came time to add additional interest to its galleries.

Director Frank Holt wanted to add themed architectural elements to accentuate touring exhibitions that will feature the art of the American West this year.

 AST Exhibits designed, fabricated and installed five elements to enhance its galleries and add a western motif.


Each project comes with its own set of challenges. This one was no different.

Anytime we create elements for a fine art environment, we ensure that our work doesn’t introduce anything potentially harmful into the museum. While it might be easier to simply find an old, weathered piece of wood that looks good, that solution might not be best in the long run.

One of our primary concerns in every job we do is to take the utmost care with the museum’s artwork. That means carefully choosing materials that are 100 percent free of pests and contaminates.

In this project, that meant starting with good, clean kiln-dried lumber, then aging and distressing it to fit the weathered look we had in mind.

We built corbels, beams, headers and arches out of kiln-dried, yellow pine. Next, we had the pieces sand-blasted to simulate aging. In the final step, we applied a multi-layered, scenic paint treatment to complete the effect.

The result turned out to be exactly what we wanted.

We produced a variety of styles ranging from delicate, painted decorative elements to heavy structural beams and supports. The approach we took with each element was different, yet each element worked together.

The biggest element we produced for the Mennello Museum is an adobe fireplace. This large piece anchors one of the exhibit galleries and enhances the guest experience.

The first traveling exhibition at the Mennello is SOUTHWESTERN ALLURE: THE ART OF THE SANTA FE ART COLONY. It opens January 17, and runs through April 6.

To learn more about upcoming exhibitions visit: