The curtain of mystery around St. Petersburg’s $90 million Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement is being gradually lifted.
The five-story, state-of-the-art building that takes up an entire city block (at 4th Street and 3rd Avenue South) has been under construction for nearly five years. Most recently, a “definitely/probably” opening date was announced for December 2019.
According to Executive Director Tom Magoulis, the new target date is “Spring.”
Speaking Thursday to St. Pete’s Business and Professional Women organization, Magoulis was cautiously optimistic. “We don’t want to put a date out there, because as soon as you do there’s a delay that you didn’t anticipate,” he said.
“To be frank, it won’t open until Rudy Ciccarello feels like it’s ready to be opened. When things are ready, when it’s perfect, the doors will open. And we’re going to have a big party; hopefully everybody will come.”
Ciccarello, the Tarpon Springs-based pharmaceutical giant, bought the lot and commissioned the museum to house his extensive personal collection of hand-made items from the American Arts and Crafts Movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He is one of the world’s leading collectors and scholars, and will administer the facility through his non-profit Two Red Roses Foundation.
Designed by Tampa-based architect Alberto Alfonso, the 137,000-square-foot museum will be the first in the world dedicated solely to the American Arts and Crafts Movement.
According to Magoulis and education director Andrea Morgan, who also spoke Thursday, the museum will:
- Draw 150,000 visitors to the bay area annually
- Create 78-80 full-time jobs, adding more than $2,600,000 annually in direct and indirect wages to the community
- Include 40,000 square feet of permanent gallery space, devoted to Ciccarello’s collections of furniture, pottery, tiles, metalworks, lighting (from table lamps to chandeliers) and other functional crafts, plus jewelry, color woodblock prints, photography and other decorative works of the period
- Include approximately 10,000 square feet of gallery space for temporary exhibitions
When the museum opens, Morgan said, the temporary exhibitions will be Love, Labor and Art: The Roycroft Enterprise; Capturing Childhood: Illustrations of American Youth; and Lenses Embracing the Beautiful: Pictorial Photographs From the Two Red Roses Foundation.
Morgan displayed artist renderings of many of the museum features, including:
- A centrally-located atrium, with stained-glass windows, rising from ground level to the top of the fifth floor
- A spacious top-floor education center for adults and young people, with a graphics studio and darkroom facilities, and picture windows overlooking downtown and the bay
- A banquet hall for special events, seating up to 300, with an antique bar
- A “destination” restaurant, with individual “Chef’s Rooms” (with special curated menus)
- A 100-seat auditorium, which will be home to a one-Sunday-a-month film series, with each film followed by a docent-led tour based on the subject of the film
- An outdoor greenspace with fountains, “perfect for weddings”
- A library for art scholars
She also showed the audience what the individual art galleries will look like. “When we think about the American Arts and Crafts Movement, we’re thinking of things that highlight the materials,” she explained. “You’ll see wood in its natural form. There weren’t a lot of heavy stains or paint applied to the wood. We think about handmade. Honoring the materials.”
The galleries themselves are works of art, Magoulis said. “And the drawings don’t do them justice. When you get in these galleries, they’re amazing. They’re huge. It’s an amazing space, and we’re so happy to be here. The City’s been great.”
Ciccarello’s odyssey began in 2013. “We had originally danced with Tampa,” said Magoulis. “We negotiated with the city for six months or a year, and that deal just fell apart. All of a sudden this lot becomes available here in St. Pete. He jumped on it, and the rest is sort of history.”
Year by year, brick by brick, the building rose into the St. Pete sky, and people wondered out loud when it would finally open.
Including, apparently, the executive director. “When we started this project, my grandson was in high school,” Magoulis announced. “Now, he’s been out of college for three years.”