Gilding Arts Museum Now Open in Pontiac, IL

Pontiac’s latest museum celebrated its opening on the weekend of May 2 -3, 2015. The Museum of the Gilding Arts, located at 217 North Mill St, promises to be an eye-catching addition to Pontiac’s variety of attractions. At 9:00 AM, when the doors were opened to the public for the first time, it was the culmination of more than four years of planning. According to Pontiac Tourism Director, Ellie Alexander, “The Gilders’ museum is stunning, educational, and absolutely unique in the world.”

The Society of Gilders is an international organization comprised of artists and artisans who work with gold and silver leaf and leaf made of other metals in architecture and decoration. According to Annie Lemarie, one of the many Gilders who have spent the last few weeks creating the displays within the museum, “The Society selected Pontiac as the home for our museum because of the City’s obvious commitment to preserving many aspects of the past. They care about history and since we care about the history of the art and craft of precious metal leafing, it seemed an ideal fit.”

Lemarie, in a recent interview, stated the overall goal of the museum and its displays: “We hope visitors to the museum are going to learn about gold and other metal leaf and become aware of how it is made, how it is used, and more importantly how every day, somewhere around you, you will find gold, or silver leaf. We have objects such as fire truck parts, fine art, mirrors, frames, signs, and architectural pieces that are covered wholly or in part with gold, silver, copper, or aluminum leaf. It is everywhere. Most people don’t notice it, or think it is gold paint. But, once you see the difference (between paint and real gold leaf) you will never forget it.”

Part of the museum includes artifacts and work stations from a gold leaf manufacturer that operated in the United States for more than 100 years. The Society of Gilders now owns the collection – the entire factory – and they have brought a portion of that factory to the museum to show how gold leaf was made back then. When the M. Swift & Sons gold leaf factory opened at Hartford, CT in 1877, the entire manufacturing process was done by hand. Today, although some parts of the process have been automated, it still requires a great deal of hand-work to achieve a quality final product.

Daily hours are from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday through Sunday. The gallery currently has an exhibit of Society of Gilders on display through August 31st.
Admission is free.

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