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New gallery graces Museum of Fine Arts

The decorative arts collection at the Museum of Fine Arts is back where it began when the museum first opened _ but with a difference.

Selections from the museum's permanent collection are now aglow in stunning glass cases inside a darkened deep-green room. Named the Kathryn B. Stenquist Gallery after its benefactor, it opens into the museum just north of the lobby.

More recently, the room housed the gift shop, and opened into the entry foyer. The gift shop is now located across the foyer in expanded quarters.

But before there was a gift shop, the space housed the museum's original decorative arts collection. Then, for several years, the museum had no designated space for its decorative arts.

A massive renovation in 1989 included a handsome new room fitted with rich cherry cases in the northwest corner of the museum. That gallery is now used as a permanent home for the Parrish collection of pre-Columbian art.

The Stenquist gallery brings to three the number of galleries that exhibit three-dimensional art in showcases. The third is the Helen Harper Brown Gallery for Decorative Arts, built in 1985 for Mrs. Brown's collection of contemporary Steuben glass which she donated to the museum.

The Stenquist's inaugural show is selections from the museum's permanent collection. Included are dainty Dresden figurines, Art Nouveau glass works from Tiffany and Steuben, Chinese porcelain and 19th century silver. It runs through Nov. 27.

Other exhibits scheduled:

Dec. 4-31: English silver by Paul Storr, 19th century English silversmith, from the collection of Elinor Bright Richardson of New Orleans, organized by the New Orleans Museum of Art. Storr was an outstanding silversmith during a high point of English decorative arts history.

Jan. 12-June 11, 1995: A La Vieille Russie, a New York gallery specializing in Russian imperial art, will lend the museum jewelry, icons, silver, porcelain and other objects covering the 300-year period of "Treasures of the Czars," which will run concurrently at the Florida International Museum.