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Arts and Crafts museum planned in Florida

A new museum scheduled to open in early 2016 will feature an extensive collection of furniture and other artwork from the Arts and Crafts movement. The Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement will be built in St. Petersburg, Fla., for collector Rudy Ciccarello and the Two Red Roses Foundation. Ciccarello donated his entire collection to the foundation, which he founded in 2004.

The proposed design for the Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement.

The foundation’s goal with the museum is to introduce an interesting and important time in American history to the general public. The 90,000-sq.-ft., four-story museum will be built by Alfonso Architects during the next couple of years. It will include galleries to exhibit hundreds of objects from Ciccarello’s fine and decorative arts collection, as well as additional space for special exhibitions and events and a small auditorium, restaurant, café, gift shop and bookstore.

“Mr. Ciccarello is a collector of American Arts and Crafts and is always on the lookout for the very best objects that come to the auction market or through private collections. When objects are found that meet his standards he doesn’t hesitate to acquire them, constantly building and refining the collection,” museum executive director Thomas Magoulis says.

The collection contains more than 160 Gustav Stickley objects including rare bookcases, sideboards, chairs, tables, dining room sets, metalwork and lighting. There are a number of other furniture craftsmen represented in the collection including Charles Rohlfs, The Byrdcliffe Colony, L.& J.G. Stickley, Greene and Greene and Rose Valley.

Magoulis says that in keeping with its mission, the foundation believes it is important to bring these pieces of furniture to the public’s attention for several reasons.

“This furniture was designed to be simple, durable, practical and intended to be lived with. The furniture was hand-built by skilled craftsmen using sturdy quartersawn oak, designed with tenon-and-key construction and doweled joints, and were absent of ornamentation and applied decorations. The artisans that built these objects rejected the mass produced products of the industrial revolution while embracing the spirit and value of the individual craftsman.”

Books and catalogues on the Arts and Crafts Movement and the foundation’s collection will be archived in a reference library furnished with original Stickley furniture, Tiffany lighting and other period objects.

Ciccarello says he is an avid collector because he truly identifies with the philosophy behind the Arts and Crafts movement, which was the belief that the Industrial Revolution had made man less creative, that his craft skills had been removed from the manufacturing process through the introduction of the machine.

“This reform movement sought to emphasize traditional craftsmanship, the qualities of materials used and the simplicity of form without superfluous or excessive ornamentation. The notion of good design was linked to the notion of a good society in which the worker was not brutalized by factory conditions, but rather could take pride in his craftsmanship and skill. Workers could produce beautiful objects that would enhance the lives of ordinary people while also providing a source of pleasure to both maker and user,” Ciccarello says.

This article originally appeared in the January 2014 issue.

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