By ANGELA deGREGORY
SAINT AUGUSTINE – Mussallem Galleries of Jacksonville is a spotlight sponsor for the Lightner Museum’s Dressing Downton™ exhibition. The Lightner was lent a total of ten rare and historic rugs to use in the special exhibition, which are combined into elaborate room settings or vignettes in the Grand Ballroom Gallery. The exhibit has been extended through Feb. 4 due to overwhelming popularity.
When Museum Curator Barry Myers and Director Robert Harper approached Mussallem Galleries to be a sponsor of Dressing Downton™, they were hopeful the gallery would be generous and donate one or two rugs. However, after meeting Mr. James Mussallem, the gallery exceeded expectations. Barry Myers said that, “…they just continued to ask for measurements until all the vignettes were covered.”
The majority of the museum’s staff and volunteers had not seen the rugs until it was time to roll them out. Seeing them for the first time, according to musuem personnel, was comparable to Christmas morning.
Nearly every room setting of the exhibition contains a unique Oriental rug that would be suitable for Downton Abbey®, and the Lightner Museum could not imagine the exhibition any other way.
A crowd favorite is the Silk Arabial in the drawing room of the exhibit. This elegant rug is 12 by 18 feet, the colors are vibrant, and the pattern is so detailed that it almost glitters. The opulence of the silk rug perfectly contributes to the clothing and Lightner’s collection in the space.
Mussallem Galleries is located in Jacksonville and has been family owned and operated for five generations. Although they provide their clients with fine decorative arts, paintings, and jewelry, Mussallem first began specializing in Oriental rugs in 1897.
Mussallem Galleries’ original Florida location was in St. Augustine. Henry Flagler purchased rugs from the Mussallems to use at his opulent hotels.
There is still plenty of time to visit the Lightner Museum, check out the Dressing Downton™ exhibition, and see these magnificent rugs for yourself! Please visit lightnermuseum.org/dressing- downton to purchase tickets.
The Lightner Museum is a non-profit cultural institution sustained by the generous support of individuals, businesses, and sponsors.
This exhibition is funded in-part by Bank of America, St. Johns County Cultural Council, St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra, and the Beaches Tourist Development Council, Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, WJCT Public Broadcasting, and Visit Florida.