Ohio Life

Museum of Divine Statues

Lou McClung opened this museum four years ago and features more than 100 statues and artifacts.

When the Vatican ordered the closing of more than two dozen Cleveland-area Catholic churches in 2009, artist Lou McClung found a way to keep the faith.

For more than a decade prior, he had been collecting and restoring religious statues, sharing his apartment with a cast of biblical characters.

“Restoration’s always been kind of a theme in my life,” says McClung, a makeup artist and photographer by trade.

McClung’s family had religious statues in their home. As an adult, he became interested in collecting them, starting with a weathered 3-foot piece he found at a local antique shop.

“I just started fixing it, and it just seemed like something really important to do — to put things back together.”

The closure of St. Hedwig Church in Lakewood gave McClung the space to showcase his collection of religious figures, as well as room for a studio where he could restore them. McClung’s Museum of Divine Statues opened four years ago, and more than 100 statues and artifacts now fill the former church.

“You can scan all the artifacts with your smartphone and see pictures of the churches they came from,” he explains. “You can also see the photograph of the artifact before it was restored.”

McClung rents tablets that visitors can carry through the museum, and there are four touch-screen kiosks that offer access to historical photographs. Open Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. (and during the week by appointment for groups of 30 or more), the museum attracts the faithful and curious alike.

“By seeing the artifacts in their church space — and reading about them — it makes it much more real,” McClung says. “If you like history and art and beauty, there’s something here for everyone.”

Admission $10; 12905 Madison Ave., Lakewood 44107, 216/228-9950, museumofdivinestatues.com

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