Milan (Mel) Mihal and Marilyn Atkin Mihal requested that tribute gifts in their honor be made to the Cleveland Museum of Art. Upon their passing in 2020, their daughter, Mia Mihal Faxon, shared her family’s history of connection and relationship with the CMA, which led to lives dedicated to art spanning three generations.
Mel was born in 1928 in Cleveland and grew up attending weekend art classes at the CMA with his older sister, Nada. They took the streetcar from Glenville to the museum, where Mel’s love of art was born. He served in the occupational force in Japan after World War II, then returned to Ohio to attend college on the GI Bill at Ohio University, where he met his wife-to-be, Marilyn, on the first day of art class in 1948. He completed his undergraduate and master’s degrees there, then went on to the University of Michigan to earn his PhD in art history. Mel’s area of expertise was Japanese art, and he and Marilyn lived in Tokyo for three years while he researched the Rinpa school painter Sakai Ho¯itsu, whose Paulownias and Chrysanthemums is on view in the Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation Japanese Art Galleries (235A) through October 3. It was during this time abroad that the couple adopted Mia. Mel became a professor of art history at Vanderbilt University, where he spent his entire career.
Mel and Marilyn returned to Cleveland in 2013 and resided at the nearby Judson Park retirement community. Many of their outings involved visits to their beloved CMA.
Mia went on to study art history, as did her daughter, Anna, who now works at the CMA in the Digital Innovation and Technology Services Department.