Who’s Who at WMODA – Donors & Supporters

By Louise Irvine

WMODA exists because of the generosity of Arthur Wiener who is donating his vast collection of fired arts to our 501c3 not-for-profit museum and sustaining us during these challenging times. We are also very grateful to many other museum champions for making WMODA the new home for their prized possessions. As a result, WMODA has become a magnet for lovers of the decorative arts and a popular cultural resource in our South Florida community.

Several keen collectors are supporting WMODA with key pieces for special exhibitions. Caroline D’Antonio has acquired many stunning Art Deco figurines by Royal Doulton and Goldscheider for our Carnival & Cabaret exhibit. Jeff and Penny Spellens have contributed Goldscheider figurines to our Art Deco Gallery and their beautiful vintage dresses add flair to our Art of Tea exhibition. Find out more about the stylish fashions at WMODA courtesy of the Spellens family and Lisa Dodge in All Dressed Up. Lisa’s fabulous Trigère gown was brought to the museum by our local board member Ken Evans, who also introduced William Aberbach to WMODA. He gave us one of his novel Wedgwood shoe heels which continues to intrigue visitors.

Angela Scott’s love of Wedgwood led to our Art of Tea exhibition which would not have been possible without her extensive collection of teapots. Read about Angela’s passion for pottery in The Art of Giving article. Several interesting teapots have been added during the last few years to continue our social history of afternoon tea including delightful gifts from Briony Lawson, Maryanne Leckie, and the late Joan Stacke-Graham whose Spitting Image teapots of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher make visitors smile every day.

Our Carnival & Cabaret exhibit celebrates the art of having fun and Don Kendall has contributed to the entertainment with his Menagerie clock by George Tinworth, which depicts mice enjoying a “Wild Beast Show”. Like many of our visitors, Don had fun with our carousel horse courtesy of Dr. Patricia Sager Lane who also introduced Josephine Wall’s artistic legacy to WMODA. Many visitors will remember Pat’s engaging talks complete with fairy wings at the exhibition opening! Dr. Gwendolyn Reasoner also shared her expertise on American porcelain at our events and donated reference books to the museum’s research library which was initiated by the Polikoff family’s extensive gift of Wedgwood titles.

A different aspect of Wedgwood’s history is highlighted in our Fairyland Lustre collection thanks to Betty Issod whose star pieces are now in the museum’s permanent collection. When “Fairyland Fever” raged in the 1980s, Betty found treasures for many celebrity collectors including Whoopi Goldberg and Barbara Streisand. Arthur Wiener has also benefitted from her discerning knowledge and experience together with many other specialist dealers, notably Arron Rimpley and Ed Pascoe.

Sergio Gnesin, a specialist in Venetian glass, has introduced WMODA to many contemporary Murano maestros and he is presenting the Animalia exhibit at WMODA which opens on August 28. Murano glass has been an important influence on Dale Chihuly throughout his career as can be seen in our Art on Fire exhibit and we are grateful to Ted and Sharon Magill for helping us to tell the story with their Piccolo Venetians.

Some of our latest gifts are inherited works of art, which have come to WMODA because the family no longer has space for them. Recently we received the Goodman collection of Boehm porcelain featured in the Birds on the Boardwalk article. Not all the inherited gifts are ceramics or glass but they are still welcome at WMODA. Mary Ellen Ballotta has given us a pair of English Victorian balloon-backed chairs, which were treasured by her mother Ruth S. Filstead. They now accessorize one of our Moorcroft tiled tea tables. Our other Moorcroft table is surrounded by a set of vintage chairs with floral needlework seats donated by our Dania Beach neighbors, Janet and Terrell McCombs.

Period furniture recreates the style and ambiance of historical interiors in many of the WMODA galleries and we are very grateful to Sharon Lee Parker for donating her wedding gift when she moved from her family’s Florida home. Her rare Chickering Square Grand piano is now a highlight of our Innovations Gallery. A Steinway Baby Grand graces our Hot Glass gallery thanks to Bonnie Schur, who also donated antique carpets and chandeliers to the museum when she sold her Florida apartment. You can read about the Music in the Museum thanks to these ladies.

Whatever the reason for parting with your treasures, you can rest assured that they will be appreciated by a whole new audience at WMODA. Even with the amazing Wiener collection, there are still holes. Surprisingly we did not have any of the tiny size Royal Doulton character jugs even though Arthur’s collection started with the purchase of a Merlin jug in the 1960s. Virginia Matish remedied this recently with her gift of Royal Doulton character jugs in all sizes. We are also able to highlight miniatures thanks to Judy Rudin, who has loaned part of her amazing dollhouse showcasing tiny ceramics by Alex Meiklejohn. Even the smallest piece can make a big difference to the impact of WMODA!

At the other extreme, the largest gift that we have received at WMODA is the Niagara porcelain chandelier which was donated by Lladró. Our visitors are having fun guessing how many fairies are dancing on the chandelier and you can read how this fairytale came true at WMODA. Thank you to everyone who is making a difference at WMODA and sharing this important legacy for the decorative arts.

“I want to share my love for the fired arts and leave a legacy to educate and inspire future generations about the importance of art in our lives and culture.” -Arthur Wiener