Lightner Museum Saint Augustine Reviews
The eclectic Lightner Museum Mar 23, 2011
The Lightner Museum is located in part of the former Alcazar Hotel. That alone would make it a destination of interest. The Alcazar, built in 1887, was one of two grand Mediterranean Revival resort hotels established in St. Augustine by Henry Flagler. The museum began when Chicago publisher Otto C. Lightner purchased the former hotel in 1946. He was a collector of objects d'art of all sorts and needed a grand building to showcase his collections. Later, he gave the museum to the city and it has continued to add to its holdings of 19th and early 20th century decorative art.
The museum has something of a split personality. The first floor has displays of items collected by Lightner. The upper floors contain more traditional decorative arts displays of glass and furniture.
Exploring the first floor can be fun. You run into all sorts of things! A collection of vintage cameras. (I enjoyed that one!) A collection on the history of toasters. A travel spoon collection. Two working steam engines made of blown glass. Perhaps the most bizarre display is Sir Winston Churchill's stuffed pet lion, Rota. (Yes, Churchill really did have a pet lion. Lightner purchased the stuffed Rota from a London taxidermist.)
On the upper floors, one finds more traditional art. There are a nice displays of French and German porcelain, American cut glass, and best of all, a collection of Tiffany Iridescent Glass and Tiffany stained glass. Furniture has equal time with American and European pieces displayed in the former grand ballroom. (Also up here is Italian opera singer Amelita Galli-Curcci's piano.)
The former hotel is on display as much as the artwork. The grand ballroom and the hotel sauna, gymnasium, and swimming pool can be seen and give an idea of the lifestyle of a moneyed traveler of the Gilded Age.
Admission is $10. Photography is permitted. A visit is definitely recommended!
Part of the Spring in the Southeast 2011 travel blog
Part of the list Museums!
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