Lou McClung’s interest in restoring statues from shuttered Catholic churches started a few years ago when he bought an old statue at a second-hand thrift store.
He put the purchase on his credit card.
As a manufacturer of high-end cosmetics, making people look their best is what he does for a living.
So it wasn’t too much of a stretch to refinish a statue.
Then, somewhere along the way, he realized his hobby had become his calling.
The Museum of Divine Statues opened last week at 12905 Madison Ave.
“This is my second passion,” he said. “This strengthens what I do at (Lusso Cosmetics) and what I do there helps me here.”
Saints, martyrs and Mother Mary are just a few of the statues on display at the Museum of Divine Statues. There’s a large crucifix on the wall, under which McClung’s parents were married.
To McClung, every detail matters.
A student of history — and faces — he knows exactly how the statues are meant to look. For example, a statue made in Spain has brown eyes, while statues made in Eastern Europe were meant to have blue eyes.
A lot of these statues are the result of decades of neglect. Even the slightest bump in a church basement could do lots of damage to a piece that’s more than 100 years old.
He’s also maintained the historic integrity of St. Hedwig, but given it new life with fresh paint, polish and a little tender loving care.
McClung has restored and installed antique stained-glass panels, beautified a couple ceiling murals and planted St. Hedwig’s statue at the front of the building.
The hardwood floors shine like the day the church opened to Polish immigrants more than 100 years ago.
There are plans in the works for a gift shop and cafeteria downstairs — which McClung says will come in handy when busloads of students and tour groups flock to the museum.
McClung is reaching out to the community for help. While the museum has officially opened, he says there is still work to be done. He’s asking for donations and people to volunteer as docents.
“Lakewood is the perfect place for this," he said. "I am really hoping Lakewood will step up and support us.”