SAINT AUGUSTINE, FLORIDA

There’s nothing like company…

…to get the house cleaned. Museums are no exception.

Lightner Museum was recently honored with a visit from His Majesty King Felipe VI and Her Majesty Queen Letizia of Spain during their whirlwind tour of the city to celebrate St. Augustine’s 450th year. In preparation for such an historic and special event, the staff at the Lightner were kept very busy in the approaching days to make sure the museum was shown in its very best light. Just as in many of life’s special occasions, the preparation often takes much longer than the actual event, but all the work is done in a happy and expectant manner.

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Lightner Museum staff member James replaces one of the many light bulbs in the foyer’s chandelier.

Special attention was paid to the grand foyer where a ceremonial book-signing and presentation of gifts was to take place. Particular pieces from the museum’s collections were selected with care for their historical significance, such as the antique desk featuring a carved Greek key pattern symbolic of the King’s own heritage, as his mother was a princess of Greece before her own marriage to King Carlos I of Spain.

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Museum folks tend to overthink details during such momentous occasions, but we can’t help ourselves.

The French chest behind the King is identical to one that had once been commissioned by one of Europe’s more famous monarchs and another ancestor of the Spanish royal house, King Louis XIV of France. Its elaborate design is evocative of the golden magnificence and elegance for which the Sun King is particularly well-known, as well as being mirrored in America’s own Gilded Age.

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With events such as this, the whole community gets involved. The beautiful flower arrangements are by Flowers by Shirley, a local florist in St. Augustine.

And the chair that was selected for the King’s use is one that was made in America during the eighteenth century and is representative of the close cultural connections between early America and Spain.

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A portrait of Museum founder Otto C. Lightner looks upon His Majesty King Felipe VI and Her Majesty Queen Letizia of Spain after signing the guest book. We feel he would be pleased to know royalty has visited his Museum.

Though their visit to the museum was brief, it was no less important to both the museum and the city. After graciously greeting museum and city representatives, the King and Queen presented a commissioned portrait of Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles, who founded the city in 1565, further emphasizing the historic links that exist between the Old and New World.

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The King and Queen are greeted by local dignitaries including Robert W. Harper, Director of the Lightner Museum and David Drysdale, Lightner Museum Board Chairman.

After completing the gift exchange, the King and Queen graciously added their signatures to the city’s guest book, putting their official mark on this very special visit.

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Lightner Museum Curator Barry Myers (center), Director of Public Affairs for St. Augustine Paul Williamson (right), and a representative of the royal house (left), prepare the painting for display during the gift exchange ceremony.

Once they had to move on to their next scheduled event, the staff here at the Lightner were able to breathe a sigh of relief and better admire the portrait of Menendez, all while enjoying the excited atmosphere that visiting royalty has been creating for centuries.

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Lightner Museum Board Chairman David Drysdale and Lightner Museum Director Robert W. Harper watch the royal entourage depart the Museum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liz JWJ

 

 

 

Written by Elizabeth Graham and photographed by Jennifer Jordan.