The Wiener Museum of Decorative Arts was founded in Dania Beach, Florida in 2014 by Arthur Wiener and family. The museum celebrates the fired arts of ceramics and glass and visitors can see beautiful pottery and porcelain art from the 18th century to the present day. The Wiener museum introduces the work of British pottery pioneers, such as Josiah Wedgwood and Sir Henry Doulton, as well as European designers from Art Nouveau and Art Deco eras.
The glass galleries at the Wiener Museum showcase the art of French designer Renée Lalique and Venetian maestros from Murano, as well as local glass artists working in South Florida. The highlight of the Hot Glass gallery is a spectacular collection of Chihuly. Contemporary ceramic art from the Ardmore studio in South Africa is one of the favorite exhibits at the Wiener museum, which hosts a varied program of exhibitions and cultural events.
FOUNDER & BENEFACTOR
Arthur Wiener acquired his first piece of pottery in 1965 when he traveled to London, as a young college graduate, armed with Frommer’s seminal guidebook Europe on $5 a day. He blew his daily budget on a Royal Doulton character jug of Merlin the magician, which caught his eye in a china shop window because of the Star of David image on the handle. Merlin certainly cast a spell on Arthur as he went on to become an avid collector of Royal Doulton figures and character jugs. In the early years, Arthur scoured antique shows where he met specialist Royal Doulton dealers, including Ed Pascoe and Arron Rimpley, who have helped him build his collection. Arron has worked with Arthur for over 25 years and facilitated the museum opening at his Gallery of Amazing Things.
In addition to his vast collection of Royal Doulton figures and character jugs, Arthur became fascinated with the art pottery produced at Doulton’s Victorian studios in Lambeth, London and Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, including impressive exhibition pieces for the world fairs of the 19th and 20th centuries. The largest piece in the collection is a colossal 6 feet tall Doulton Faience vase, commissioned by the Gaekwar of Baroda. Arthur then began acquiring ceramic art from the British Arts & Crafts movement and exploring European design from the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods.
Arthur’s collection comes right up to date with contemporary ceramic art from the Ardmore studio in South Africa and he is very happy that his acquisitions have helped uplift this remote rural community.
In recent years, Arthur has become passionate about American studio glass, notably the work of Dale Chihuly and the Hot Glass gallery at WMODA boasts a spectacular forest of Chihuly’s Macchia and Ikebana designs, alongside his Persian and Venetian forms.
In 2014, with his home and storerooms overflowing with his treasures, Arthur decided to open the Wiener Museum of Decorative Arts to share his love of ceramics and glass with a wide audience. His remarkable legacy has created a unique educational and cultural resource in South Florida and an important new study center for British and European ceramics and American studio glass.
Executive Director & Curator of WMODA
Louise Irvine is an expert in British ceramic history and her career in the UK and the USA has been devoted to promoting greater appreciation of the fired arts through publishing, lecturing, and exhibitions. She is regarded as the leading authority on Royal Doulton antiques, having published more than twenty reference books for collectors.
Of Scottish origin, Louise studied first at Edinburgh University graduating with an Honours degree in Fine Art. Later, her post-graduate studies for the Museums Diploma at Manchester University led to her special interest in ceramic history. After working for museums in Glasgow and London, she researched The Doulton Story exhibition for the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in 1979, beginning her long association with the Royal Doulton Potteries. She founded Doulton’s International Collectors Club and edited its quarterly magazine. As Director of Historical Promotions for twelve years, she organized regular exhibitions for the Royal Doulton Gallery in London, many of which also traveled abroad.
With her extensive knowledge of ceramic art and antiques, Louise is often a guest on TV and radio chat shows around the world and she starred with the actor Patrick Macnee in the video documentary, The Royal Doulton Story. Louise also writes and lectures about many other aspects of ceramic and glass art. Louise is in great demand as a public speaker and regularly lectures to museums, antique clubs and other special interest groups in Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia and South Africa. Since 1981, she has been an approved lecturer for the Arts Society (formerly NADFAS) in the UK. She has also been a teacher of ceramic history at Staffordshire University as well as at Christie’s Education in London. Louise continues to organize conventions, as well as travel events for collectors, such as cruises with seminars at sea, and tours of the Staffordshire Potteries.
In 2015, Louise was honoured for her outstanding contribution to the world of ceramic art with a tribute from the State of Florida recognizing her 40 year career.