You could say David Bagnall knows his way around a few famous buildings. Now, the native of Great Britain will bring his extensive experience in architectural history to one of the greatest historic structures in St. Augustine, the Lightner Museum.
The impressive former hotel in the heart of downtown serves as home to Otto Lightner’s extensive collection of antiques and oddities. Before that, it was built by Henry Flagler and welcomed guests as the Alcazar Hotel. Bagnall, recently named as the new executive director of the Lightner Museum, will begin his official duties Sept. 8.
He comes to the position having most recently served as director of preservation and interpretation for the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust in Chicago. There, he oversaw the restoration of the Frederick C. Robie House, the first example of Lloyd Wright’s movement into what was eventually called the “Prairie School” of architecture. Bagnall said coming up with narratives to tell stories in a new way to the public is one of the most exciting parts of his career in the art history field.
Bagnall said: “I mean, it’s like Frank Lloyd Wright what else can you say about the man? It’s trying to expand that story from man to myth.”
Before that, Bagnall was executive director for the Driehaus Museum, also in Chicago, located in the restored Nickerson Mansion. There, he helped guide restoration of this showpiece of the Gilded Age, which parallels the Lighnter in many ways, including the vast collections each holds.
For Bagnall, taking over the reins at the Lightner Museum is an opportunity to build upon that experience. “I’m excited to continue telling that [Gilded Age] story through the Lightner Museum,” Bagnall said in a phone interview this week with The Record.
Bagnall grew up in Wales and holds a master of arts degree from the Courtauld Institute of Art at the University of London. It was there that he met his wife, an American, and moved to the U.S. nearly 20 years ago. Bagnall, 42, and his wife have an 11-year-old daughter and he said the family is excited to make their home in the oldest city in America, rich with so much history, Bagnall said.
Teresa Radzinski, chair of the board of directors, said the Lightner Museum was happy to welcome Bagnall. “His comprehensive curatorial, architectural, operating and fundraising experience will help us continue to present the Lightner’s collection in a way that re-engages our community with programs that will highlight its broad appeal,” Radzinski said in a news release. “He is the right person at the right time to take us to the next level.”
‒ Illuminate: Lightner Museum’s Stained-Glass Rediscovered features 13 pieces of the Lightner’s newly restored stained-glass collection, including works from Tiffany. The exhibit will open to the public on Sept.10.
‒ The Music Room Mural Competition announced Joshua Cooper, a realist painter living in Jacksonville as the artist who will create the new mural for the back wall of the newly restored music room on the first floor of the museum. A mural unveiling date will be announced in the near future.
‒ Virtual Gilded Age: allows participants to design their own Gilded Age mansion using some of the most popular pieces of the Lightner Museum’s collection in a new, immersive, digital gallery.