“During the past years various readers have written us offering to donate from a single article to an entire collection to the Museum of Hobbies if and when we made a permanent, public, museum of it. An opportunity finally came when the ideal location was found in the beautiful city of St. Augustine….”
The Lightner Museum has been an important part of the St. Augustine community since it was first built as the Hotel Alcazar in 1888. The building opened as a museum in January 1948. In celebration of our 75th diamond anniversary in 2023, 75 for 75 presents a compelling selection of artwork and objects from the museum’s permanent collection.
Founded in 1948 as the Lightner Museum of Hobbies, the Lightner Museum has its origins in the craze for collecting that swept America in the years surrounding the Great Depression. As millions found themselves out of work, hobbies were seen as a way to reinforce the work ethic at a time when work itself was under threat. One of the great advocates for hobbies and collecting in the United States, Otto Lightner (1886-1950) was the publisher of Hobbies magazine. Launched in 1931, Hobbies promoted itself as “the magazine for collectors.” While Lightner advocated for every kind of hobby, from collecting matchbooks and cigar labels to whittling wood, he had the means to amass a substantial personal collection of fine and decorative art, natural history specimens, and Americana.
Lightner first opened a museum of hobbies in Chicago in 1934. In addition to his eclectic and eccentric collections, he encouraged the readers of Hobbies magazine to send him their collections. Following a stay at St. Augustine’s Ponce de Leon Hotel in 1946, Lightner purchased the neighboring Hotel Alcazar to serve as the permanent home for his collection.
75 for 75 celebrates the Lightner Museum and the incredible legacy that Otto Lightner left to the people of St. Augustine.