Florida Finds: Museum of American Arts and Crafts Movement

St. Petersburg’s Museum of American Arts and Craft Movement (MAACM) scores another first with its selection as a venue for a touring exhibit that pays tribute to a renowned modern designer and those who followed his lead.  

The show, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style, which opens March 11, features 166 works of art and design by and related to Mackintosh and the Glasgow School. The MAACM is the last stop for this tour, which highlights art seldom displayed in the United States. 

“MAACM is thrilled to have the opportunity to present the stunning and historically significant work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow School, contemporaries of Arts and Crafts artisans in America,” said Rudy Ciccarello, MAACM’s founder and president. “Designing the New provides an opportunity to see MAACM’s permanent collection in light of its international context, illuminating the many connections between the two movements.”

The exhibit was co-organized by Glasgow Museums and the American Federation of Arts, which has perviously taken the show to The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore; the Frist Art Museum in Nashville, Tenn.; and Albuquerque Museum in Albuquerque, N.M. 

The May Queen

The Glasgow style, which held reign in Europe from 1896-1914, was comprised of influential artists and designers who gathered in Glasgow, led by Mackintosh, his wife, Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh, and her sister, Frances. Their work is said to have influenced other well-known painters, including Gustav Klimt. 

The invitation to be part of this touring exhibit is a nod to the MAACM’s already recognized international stature, especially given that the museum only opened its doors to the public last September. It describes itself as the only museum in the world dedicated to the American Arts and Craft Movement. 

The pictorialist exhibit at the Museum of American Arts and Crafts Movement

The American Arts and Crafts Movement first took hold in 1890, as artists rebelled against the mass production of goods that defined the Industrial Revolution. It remained influential until 1930, the time of the Great Depression  The motivating force for artists and craftspeople who engaged with the movement was to design handcrafted, unique items that were both functional and beautiful. That is the kind of work the visitor will see at the MAACM.

The museum houses philanthropist Ciccarello’s private collection as well as the assets of the Two Red Roses Foundation, the non-profit educational organization he founded in 2004.

Ciccarello, along with Alfonso Architects, designed and oversaw the museum’s creation and building. It is a five-story, 137,000 square-foot structure—itself is a work of art—with elements that include a grand atrium, skylights, and an attention-getting spiral staircase. In all there are more than 40,000 square feet of gallery space.

The museum opened in September with two special exhibits; one highlighting photographers from the period, titled Lenses Embracing the Beautiful that featured rare books and the work of pictorial photographers like Alfred Stieglitz, Edward S. Curtis, and others. The second exhibit focused on the Roycroft community, which flourished under the leadership of Elbert Hubbard who championed the arts and crafts approach to design in the early 20th century. 

Hillhouse chair

The visitor will be surprised and pleased in a walk through the museum to find works by others, including Gustav Stickley, Charles Rohlfs, Frank Lloyd Wright, William Grueby, Newcomb Pottery, Margaret Patterson, Greene and Greene, Louis Sullivan, and many other gifted craftsmen and women. Some of Cicarello’s favorites are featured in his founder’s gallery, a separate showcase.

The museum is located along Fourth Avenue North between Third and Fourth streets in St. Petersburg. There is a parking garage on the property and metered street parking nearby. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

Admission is $25 for adults, $23 for seniors, $20 for active military and first responders, and $10 for children aged 6-17. Kids 5 and under are admitted free.

Architect gallery at the Museum of American Arts and Craft Movement

This is the latest in a monthly series featuring museums, parks and other family friendly activities in North Florida. To view previous stories, click here.

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