Opening in spring 2024, this major reinterpretation of the museum’s permanent collection celebrates the opulent art and furnishings of America’s Gilded Age.
A dynamic era that shaped modern America, the Gilded Age witnessed the sudden rise of a new millionaire class whose wealth derived from emerging industries including railroads, oil, and steel manufacturing. These titans of American industry expressed their high status by building stately mansions filled with beautiful objects and substantial art collections.
The period was chronicled in the novels of Edith Wharton and Henry James, as well as Mark Twain who coined the term ‘the Gilded Age’ to satirize the gross materialism and blatant political corruption of his day. While Twain differentiated between a true golden age and his present time; the architectural, aesthetic and philanthropic legacy of the Gilded Age remains crucial to understanding the evolution of American cultural life of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries.
Displayed in the grand ballroom of the former Hotel Alcazar, The Gilded Age: Treasures from the Lightner Museum will feature a range of furniture, ceramics, stained glass, metalwork, painting, and sculpture—most from the Museum’s permanent holdings and a few select loans. The exhibition presents a lavish display of fine and decorative art created during a defining period in American history.