Located across from the Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan Del Valle in Texas, the Gelman Stained Glass Museum is home to the most comprehensive collection of stained glass windows in the country. The 16,000-square-foot state-of-the-art museum replicates the Latin-cross cruciform architecture of European medieval cathedrals, providing a sacred setting for these antique pieces salvaged from deteriorating churches throughout the country. Learn more here in San Juan Texas
The Museum, which opened in December 2018, contains 174 sets of church windows dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Those pieces include works by renowned artists and prominent glass houses such as Louis Comfort Tiffany.
Most of the windows are from American congregations. They depict biblical scenes and often include the names of the parishioners whose faces are also reflected in the windows.
Each window is set into dark red-oak walls and has a backlighting system to mimic natural light, so it's always easy to see the colors and details of the windows.
The high-ceilinged main gallery spaces feature dazzlingly colorful church windows by leading designers such as John LaFarge and Mary Tillinghast. The museum also features two commissioned pieces by La Casa del Vitral in Edinburg, Texas.
There are a number of galleries that showcase the different styles of stained glass. The main gallery is dominated by large-scale windows that feature a variety of subject matter, including a beautiful, multi-paneled mosaic depicting the life of Jesus. Other windows are more abstract, featuring figures such as birds, angels, flowers and leaves.
Other exhibits in the galleries focus on specific periods of stained glass art, such as the Romanesque and Gothic eras. Some examples are a Renaissance-era window by Claude Lorrain and a Gothic panel by John LaFarge.
Among the most striking windows in the museum is a spectacularly detailed Tiffany masterpiece called Te Deum. It illuminates the far end of the gallery with cool blues and purples, metallic golds and yellows, and a burst of brilliant white toward the top.
Another piece in the museum is a large peacock window by Mexican artist Yaso. It took Yaso about a month to create the piece, and it's estimated that it contains 2,000 pieces of glass.
In addition to stained glass, the Gelman Stained Glass Museum hosts art and music events. Currently, they're hosting a Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration and talk on November 2.
"We want to get people out in the community and be more educated about the art of stained glass," explained Cepeda. The goal is to get the word out about this style of art that most people in the Rio Grande Valley don't know much about.
The museum is a private foundation supported by Lawrence R. Gelman, a former anesthesiologist and collector of stained glass for more than 30 years.
There are many reasons why Gelman opened this museum in the Rio Grande Valley, but his primary motivation was to bring the world of stained glass to the area. He said it was important to create a place where people could learn about this art form and be inspired by it, "especially in this part of the country where it's not seen so much."
The Gelman Stained Glass Museum is open to the public during regular business hours, but appointments are required for visitations. Admission costs $4.50 for adults and $2.00 for students and seniors. Learn more information about Family fun at main event Pharr