LAKEWOOD, Ohio - Lou McClung, an experienced photographer and makeup artist, has always had a fascination with religious statues. And his years of experience lend themselves perfectly to doing intricate restorations on so many of the statues on display at his Museum of Divine Statues.
The idea for the museum, in the Birdtown neighborhood, happened organically and the museum opened six years ago.
"I started doing the restorations with the idea that I was just collecting the art for myself," said McClung. "When they announced that many churches were closing, I thought it would be cool for the statues to represent those churches. To keep some of them here in Cleveland."Lou McClung, owner of the Museum of Divine Statues in Lakewood, show us his amazing artistry
He said the statues were being sold to other cities and states where new churches were being built.
"My function for creating the museum was for making sure that a part of everyone's heritage stayed here. That was the genesis of that."
Currently, there are 200 pieces of ecclesiastical art on display, ranging from statues, to relics to massive stained-glass windows. The museum bought most of the art from the Diocese of Cleveland, while some has been donated and others are on loan.
The museum is a 501(c)(3) non-profit operating on donations and admission fees. While McClung does much of the maintenance on the 125-year-old former St. Hedwig church himself, a lot of help is needed to keep it going.
When McClung was not busy with his Lusso Cosmetics showroom and factory in the old schoolhouse building next door, he quickly found joy in doing the statue restorations. He's recast and rebuilt everything from fingers, toes, limbs and even wings. He's taken decades-old poorly done paint jobs and turned the statues into breathtaking, lifelike pieces of art.
His skills with makeup translate to the beautiful faces of the statues. Light, shadow and the rules of drawing and sketching come into play as McClung toils for just a few hours at a time in his tidy workshop within the museum.
Like a hobby, he finds the restoration enjoyable and relaxing. His reputation is impeccable and he's even doing work for other churches in Cleveland and across the nation.
McClung restored the church building, as well. With pews in place and beautiful floors and ceiling, the museum is breath-taking.
Museum of Divine Statues details:
Where: 12905 Madison Ave., Lakewood
Hours: Noon to 4 p.m. Sundays
Admission: General admission is $10
Guided Tours: Guided tours for groups of 30 or more are by appointment only and cost $14 per person
Parking: Is available in the adjacent lot with entrance on Halstead Avenue.
Links: For further information, news, donation page, sponsor a statue info and more go to museumofdivinestatues.com and see the Museum of Divine Statues Facebook
Prohibited: Strollers, camera tripods, large camera bags and backpacks are not permitted. Photography is permitted without the use of flash.
This is the third story in a three-part series about Lou McClung, Lusso Cosmetics and the Museum of Divine Statues. See the links below.
Read part one: Lou McClung is Lakewood's own Renaissance man.
Read part two: Lou McClung teaches the foundation of makeup application and produces sophisticated Lusso Cosmetics in Lakewood.
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