Lightner celebrates diamond anniversary with exhibits, open house


The Lightner Museum in St. Augustine will conduct an open house 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2, as part of its yearlong 75th anniversary celebration. St. Augustine residents will be admitted free. Museum members are invited to a free preview starting at 5:15 p.m.

The highlight of the event will be the debut of three major exhibitions. Here’s a look:

  • “Ride On! Historic Bicycles from the Collection of Keith Pariani” — Exhibit runs Feb. 2 to Sept. 30. It presents the American bicycle as an object of beauty and engineering ingenuity, featuring design innovations from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • “75 for 75: Lightner Museum Diamond Anniversary Exhibition” — Exhibit runs Feb. 2 to Feb. 16, 2024. Founded in 1948 as the Lightner Museum of Hobbies, the museum has its origins in the hobby boom that swept America in the early 20th century. The museum exhibits countless objects in its collection, including lamps by Louis Comfort Tiffany, exquisite shells and geological specimens from the world over, porcelain produced at Sѐvres and Victorian mechanical musical instruments. The exhibit will feature artwork and objects from the collection, including enlarged images of covers from Otto C. Lightner’s Hobbies Magazine.
  • “St. Augustine Through the Lens of William Henry Jackson” — Permanent exhibit. Jackson played a major role in shaping public perception of the American landscape. In the 1890s, he was commissioned by Henry Flagler’s East Coast Railroad to photograph St. Augustine to help promote it as a tourist destination. The high-definition photos remain an outstanding record of the Nation’s Oldest City at the turn of the 20th century.

The iconic poured-concrete building that houses the museum was built by Henry Flagler in 1888 and opened as the Alcazar Hotel. It closed in 1931 and was purchased 16 years later by Chicago publisher, collector and professional hobbyist Otto Lightner, who opened the museum the following year, exhibiting his collection of interesting objects.

Lightner died in 1950, but the museum continued on. It was briefly closed in the 1970s for repairs and reopened in 1976. Today, it is owned by a trust, and the city rents a portion of it for offices. Shops occupy parts of the building ringing the courtyard.

The museum was closed during the pandemic to give the first floor a facelift and move the museum store to a better location. Floors were refurbished and the HVAC system was updated. The museum reopened in June 2020.

Aside from the open house, the museum’s hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

Admission is $17 for adults; $14 for seniors (65+), military and college students; $10 for youth ages 12-17; and free to children 11 and younger.

The museum is located at 75 King St., St. Augustine. For information, go to


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