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Mussallem Galleries — Jacksonville’s hidden secret

Jacksonville has a few hidden gems, and Mussallem Galleries is undeniably one of them. The history behind Mussallem Galleries signifies how influential the city of Jacksonville was in the late 1800s. Warm Florida weather and the finest means of transportation at the time, the railroad, influenced the location of this fifth-generation establishment. Mussallem Galleries is not only the largest privately owned gallery in North Florida, but one of the largest in the world.

The gallery initially started as an Oriental rug business and over the years has expanded into a collection of fine art that is mostly from Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Interestingly enough, all the buying of the artwork is done right here in America.

“We offer a 10 percent commission to anyone that finds us anything to buy. We have hundreds of people from around the country finding us different estates to purchase,” James Mussallem said, owner of Mussallem Galleries. “These people have their own jobs and this provides a very substantial additional income for some. They don’t necessarily know anything about art, but next time you hear of someone selling off their antiques it may be worth your while to take some time and send us some images.”

The showrooms hold pieces that are dated from 500 B.C. into the 20th century. The array of artwork and mediums that embellish the walls and rooms of this 90,000 square-foot gallery is breathtaking. Frames, estate jewels, antique furnishings, porcelains and Oriental hand-woven rugs are also showcased and available for purchase throughout the gallery.

Mussallem Galleries houses a variation of styles from pivotal time periods in art history such as the Italian Renaissance, Baroque and Post-Impressionism. Rembrandt, Monet, Van Gogh and modern day artists, such as Jackson Pollack and Pablo Picasso, are just some of the quintessential artists whose work is exhibited throughout the showrooms.

“During the recession, one of the things that wasn’t affected in value was one of a kind art work. When speaking of one of a kind art, every year there is less and less famous pieces in the market due to museums and personal collections buying them all,” said Mussallem. “The demand is extremely high for this limited commodity, which allows for record setting auction prices in the past few years.”

These paintings might seem unattainable for the average buyer, but Mussallem Galleries sells pieces starting from as low as $50.

“Our clientele comes from all over the world. Everyone from politicians to professional athletes to movie stars and singers has graced our gallery,” said James II Mussallem.

The interior design of Mussallem Galleries is extremely authentic. Most galleries have a general interior design with little to no thought or doing. A plain-white wall is as far as interior design goes for a typical gallery. The complete opposite is seen in Mussallem Galleries. The gallery has walls painted in pulsating colors, and is covered in eye-catching textures to embrace the pieces that they surround. Uses of materials and fixtures that were once part of a renowned institution can be spotted throughout the building. The event entrance of Mussallem Galleries is adorned with stunning chandeliers that once illuminated the Empire State Building. The private office of James Mussallem is guarded with the same steel doors that formerly secured the Florida National Bank in Jacksonville. The unique detail and thought put into every room in the gallery is an artistic piece within itself. Having exquisite taste and all of the tools to create a picture-perfect home, the Mussallems are experts when it comes to interior design. Revamping mansions is just another well-established skill obtained throughout the 100-plus years in the business.

Locally owned businesses truly make this city what it is today. There’s no place like this anywhere else in the world and it’s thrilling to find that businesses such as this exist in our evolving city. If you are ever looking to add to your home décor, without hesitation, Mussallem Galleries is the place to go.

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