Visiting A NewArts and Crafts Museum in Saint Petersburg (FL)

Looking towards the museum atrium
Recently the Friends of Artis-Naples sponsored a day trip to see the new Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement followed by lunch and an afternoon stop at the Dali Museum. Knowing nothing about the Arts and Crafts Museum and everything (almost) about the Dali we decided to join along for a pleasant one day getaway.
After a long 3 1/2 hour (normally 2 1/2 )bus ride to St. Pete—note to self, avoid driving on I 75 north on March 31 due to the seasonal snowbird lease expirations), we arrived at the new Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement.

The building is located right in the heart of downtown off I 375 on the edge of the area known as the Old Northeast, a neighborhood constructed of Craftsmen style buildings. It is owned by the Two Red Roses Foundation, named after a poem by William Morris titled: “Two Red Roses Across the Moon”

The non-profit was established by philanthropist /collector Rudy Ciccarello creating the only museum dedicated to the Arts and Crafts Movement in the world!
Pamela, our docent was very informative about everything in the museum: It took over three years to build due to a change in height and the Pandemic, finally opening in September 2021.
There is a beautiful restaurant: Ambrosia Cafe, a cafe and gift shop all located on the first floor of the museum.

Architect Alberto Alfonso created a beautiful modern showcase utilizing many of the materials and crafts that were popular during the 1890’s to early 1920’s era of the Craftsmen movement. These included quarter sawn oak flooring, ceramic tiles, and the most unique feature, a spiral staircase that wound from the second to fifth floors made with a covering of Venetian plaster that was very smooth and touchable—it was one of the objects that you could touch.  It reminded me of a snail shell.

The architect kept it contemporary in style so that the building would not conflict with focusing on the artwork. The lobby featured a 60 ft. long 600 piece circa 1914 Rookwood Pottery ceramic tile mural of sailing ships that had never been installed before its addition to the building.

The oval shaped rooms of the southwest corner of each floor featured the best pieces of the Museum’s collection including furniture, lamps, and ceramics.

I was particularly fascinated by the reconstructed 1914 Iris bath room from a suburban Cleveland Ohio home that was going to be razed. A tiny jewel box of a bathroom for the woman of the house was constructed with beautiful blue, white, yellow, and green terracotta ceramic tiles by Grueby Faience and Tile Company that had stylized irises molded into the tiles.

When the house was ready to be razed, experts went in and carefully numbered and removed each tile for the reconstruction. They also had the floor of the Aloha Landing boathouse, also by Grueby Tile as well along with several rooms that were rescued from demolition.

Currently there is an exhibit featuring the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the Scottish founder of the Arts and Crafts  movement on display until June 24.
Sadly our traffic delay shortened our already brief visit to the museum-I definitely want to go back and completely explore its wonderful treasures.
Our visit to St. Petersburg continues in my next blog.


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