Maybe the upside of the recent spate of Catholic Church closings in the Cleveland diocese will be increased tourism to Lakewood, Ohio. That’s where makeup entrepreneur Lou McClung opened up his Museum of Divine Statues last April in the decommissioned St. Hedwig Church at 12905 Madison Avenue. This weekend his endeavor netted a nearly 1,400 word article in the New York Times by columnist Dan Barry as part of his “This Land’ series.
McClung was running his successful business, Lusso Cosmetics, out of Lakewood, and as a sideline, giving a makeover to a few old statues he’d found here and there. When the diocese announced the closure or merging of dozens of parishes in early 2009, he realized that a motherlode of church art would no longer have a home, and he hatched his idea. Ultimately, he received the blessing of the diocese and purchased St. Hedwig in 2010.
The doors of the Museum of Divine Statues opened last April to reveal an entirely reimagined space that still evoked a Catholic church — and not only because of the whiff of incense or the Gregorian chants playing in the background.
An all-star lineup of saints along the side walls. Stained-glass windows from a closed church in Slavic Village. Dozens of first-class relics — pieces of saints, literally — under glass. A collection of rescued Marian statues. Even a gift shop, operated by Mr. McLung’s mother, Lucy, and guarded by St. Joan of Arc.
The museum is open Sundays from noon-4 p.m., with group tours by appointment (if you can get in with the hordes of New Yorkers who are sure to descend on it now). Admission is $8. — Anastasia Pantsios