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St. Pete Arts and Crafts museum delays opening again

The Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement was originally slated to open in 2017. That has changed many times.
Work continues on the Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement, seen here in August 2019. The museum was scheduled to open in December, but now the date has been pushed back again to early spring of 2020.
Work continues on the Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement, seen here in August 2019. The museum was scheduled to open in December, but now the date has been pushed back again to early spring of 2020.
Published Oct. 23, 2019
Updated Oct. 23, 2019

St. Petersburg will have to wait a little longer for its newest museum. The Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement announced in a news release Wednesday that the projected opening is now early spring 2020. The most recently announced opening date had been Dec. 10.

This comes as little surprise as the opening has been pushed back for years. Rodolfo “Rudy” Ciccarello, who owns the collection and is funding most of the museum, purchased the 3.2-acre parcel from Synovus bank in 2014. Leaders broke ground on a 300-space parking garage in 2015 and expected to open in 2017. But construction on the main museum didn’t start until January 2017, a year later than expected.

Mid-construction, Ciccarello decided to add another floor, expanding the size from 90,000 square feet to 137,000 square feet. That raised the project’s price tag to $90 million.

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Residents are watching as the exterior of the museum at 355 Fourth St. N continues to morph, with more layers of copper sheeting, granite panels and a different finish on the sphere that houses a spiral staircase.

According to the release, the museum is in its final construction phase.

“Although the initial completion date of the museum has been moved again, we are working diligently to ensure that construction of this complex, multi-phase project wraps up early spring 2020 and we look forward to the grand opening,” Ciccarello said in the release.

The five-story museum will house Ciccarello’s collection of more than 2,000 objects from the early 20th century, including furniture, ceramics, tiles, glass and lighting. There will be 40,000 square feet of permanent gallery space, a grand atrium, a museum store, a cafe, Ambrosia restaurant and a research library.

Ciccarello started collecting in 1997 and began amassing so many works from the movement that he started the Two Red Roses Foundation, which owns the collection. It’s considered the most important private collection in the world. His passion for the movement is evidenced by his scholastic knowledge of the period, and he is known to be meticulous about detail.

“Perfection takes persistence,” Alberto Alfonso, the architect who designed the building, said in the release. The building is being designed in the spirit of the artistry of the movement, he said, with rare stone and woods, leaded glass, hand-wrought copper, vintage glazed tiles, Venetian plaster and handmade chandeliers.

It will be the only museum in the world dedicated exclusively to the American Arts and Crafts movement, which revived and elevated handcraft in the wake of the industrial revolution. It’s likely to draw in a new group of tourists in followers of the movement who are already enthusiastic about the museum.

”We are anxiously awaiting the opening and are excited to show this iconic museum to local residents and the international arts community,” executive director Tom Magoulis said in the release.