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Sanctuary Museum in Lakewood offers an afterlife for statues from shuttered churches

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Posted at 5:00 PM, Jul 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-22 19:23:17-04

LAKEWOOD, Ohio — From the outside, it looks like a church, but step inside the Sanctuary Museum in Lakewood and you will see where statues and stained-glass windows that once adorned local Catholic churches are displayed and preserved in their afterlife.

“There are many, many churches, and so people just go by thinking [the museum is] still a church. It is a vast collection of all kinds of different artifacts,” said Lou McClung, owner of the Sanctuary Museum, which was recently featured on our 100 hidden gems of Cleveland list.

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Lou McClung, owner of The Sanctuary Museum.

McClung has done the painstaking work of restoring dozens of statues and artifacts that he rescued from closed parishes in Cleveland.

Inside the museum are relics that should look familiar to local churchgoers, plus some other special surprises, like a crucifixion scene that was carved in Italy that now sits inside the museum.

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The Sanctuary Museum in Lakewood.

“Many of them were in disrepair, and simply because over the years, the paint starts to release from the statue. I take great focus and detail into returning the artifact exactly the way that it was when it was created, the color palette, the techniques, everything,” McClung said.

Russell Tadych, of Mentor, was blown away during his visit to the museum.

"Sometimes they're missing a finger or an arm, and Lou has the ability to restore that. It's incredible. Each time I went around the corner, I'm like, 'Oh, there's more.' And it's not a real big museum, but it had more statues than I expected and I really enjoyed it," he said.

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Russell Tadych inside the Sanctuary Museum in Lakewood.

Take a walk through the museum in the video below:

Sanctuary Museum provides an afterlife for statues from Catholic churches

Click here for museum hours.

RELATED: 100 hidden gems of Cleveland

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