New arts and crafts museum will add to St. Pete's creative vibe

Downtown St. Pete’s rich museum scene gets a unique addition in December.

The Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement will showcase a vast collection of furniture, metalwork, lighting, ceramics, pottery, prints and other decorative and fine arts objects that date back to the 1900-to-1930 time period when the modern technology of machines changed the way craftspeople worked.

Palm Harbor businessman and art collector Rudy Ciccarello, who built his company Florida Infusion Services into a national pharmaceutical distributor, amassed the collection and endowed it to his Two Red Roses Foundation, the nonprofit group behind the museum project.

He first officially announced plans to build a museum to display his collection and traveling exhibits in 2013.

“After more than 20 years of collecting world-class art objects from the Arts and Crafts movement in America and founding the nonprofit Two Red Roses Foundation to house the collection, Ciccarello is finally realizing his dream to make this amazing collection available to the public,” Museum Executive Director Tom Magoulis says in an email.

The five-story, 137,000-square-foot museum along the 300 block of Fourth Avenue North will be the first of its kind in the country and the largest in St. Petersburg.

The approximately $70 million museum will feature a 100-seat auditorium, a resource library, children’s education center, and gallery as well as a graphic studio and darkroom facilities for educational programs. There will be a museum café, retail store and event spaces for weddings, corporate events, and private parties.

With the Salvador Dali Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Florida Holocaust Museum, James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art and Imagine Museum and the Morean Arts Center, St. Pete has established a big city reputation as an arts hub. Magoulis says the Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement will enhance it.

“It will add significantly to St. Petersburg’s growing and deserving reputation as an American arts destination by attracting visitors from the community and around the world,” he says.

Tampa’s Alfonso Architects is the design firm and Gilbane Construction is the builder. Magoulis says the “beautifully designed” museum will feature “cutting edge architecture.” Two examples of that attention to detail are the hand-selected, radial-sawn, American white oak wood throughout the building and the Brazilian granite of the exterior stone façade.

For more information, follow these links: Two Red Roses Foundation, Alfonso Architects, Gilbane Co.

Read more articles by Christopher Curry.

Chris Curry is a freelance writer living in Clearwater. Chris spent more than 15 years as a newspaper reporter, primarily in Ocala and Gainesville, before moving back home to the Tampa Bay Area. He enjoys our local music scene, great weather, and Florida's wealth of outdoor festivals.
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