There are few museums in the country that focus on glass and ceramics.

SOUTH PORTLAND (AP) – The Museum of Glass and Ceramics in South Portland hopes to unbox its collections and open in a former armory at the foot of the Casco Bay Bridge.

But before it receives its first visitor, the museum must resolve a legal battle with its founder and raise around $3 million to build up its collection and renovate the armory. The museum purchased the armory with a $650,000 donation.

Experts say that glass has a strong following, but few museums in the country are dedicated to the medium.

“There may be some visions of grandeur here,” said Jim Erwin, an attorney who represents the museum’s estranged founder, Dorothy-Lee Jones.

The museum’s director, John Holverson, sees challenges but dismisses those who say the idea is too big.

The museum’s new location and name grew out of a battle between Jones and Holverson and trustees of the Jones Museum of Glass and Ceramics in Sebago.

Jones, a well-known collector and expert on glass and ceramic art, started the Jones Museum with her own collection on family property on Douglas Mountain in the late 1970s. It represented her life work, and she kept the small museum afloat with her own money, former trustees said.

Jones’ relationship with museum trustees and Holverson broke down in 2001, shortly after she stepped down from the board. The trustees and Holverson asked her to resign because it would help the museum modernize and gain national accreditation, according to court documents.

The board locked Jones out of the museum. She sued last year to retain a substantial amount of the museum’s collection, which she claims belongs to her.

The lawsuit is still pending and is not expected to be resolved this year.

The new museum will include contemporary glass work, including its social history and how it is made – not just the antique pieces in Jones’s collection, Holverson said.

There are few museums in the country that focus on glass and ceramics. The largest is the Corning Museum of Glass in upstate New York. There also are smaller museums in towns known historically as glassmaking centers, such as Sandwich, Mass.


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