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The Morse Museum of American Art is a jewel lying underneath our noses. Located in the heart of Winter Park, ten minutes from Orlando, it is most renowned for its collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany pieces (the largest collection in the world) but also houses a treasure of American decorative art, especially Arts and Crafts selections.
The museum was founded 75 years ago, in 1942, by Jeannette Genius McKean, who named it after her grandfather, Charles Hosmer Morse. During its first 35 years, the Morse Museum was located on the campus of Rollins College and known simply as the Morse Gallery of Art. In 1977 it was moved to a location on East Welbourne Ave, and then in 1995 moved again to its current home on North Park Avenue.
In February 2011, the Museum was able to expand by 6,000 square feet into a new wing. This provided exhibition space for art and architectural pieces from Louis Comfort Tiffany’s estate in Long Island.
Visitors to the Morse Museum can enjoy public programs designed to encourage visits of the collections and exhibitions. There are many opportunities for touring the galleries free of charge, including every Friday night from 4 pm to 8 pm from November through April. There are also free-admission lectures and films.
“Friday Nights at the Morse” often include live music to add to visitors’ enjoyment of the evening. The museum’s website lists by name musicians and musical groups scheduled to perform on these Fridays (http://www.morsemuseum.org/programs-events/friday-nights-at-the-morse).
Louis Comfort Tiffany’s art, glass, and architectural pieces form the linchpin of the Morse Museum’s exhibits. Tiffany was trained as a painter but turned his interests to glassmaking at 24. He developed new methods of glass manufacturing and became renowned for his glass both at home and abroad. His creations ranged from lamps and chandeliers made in the thousands to unique windows commissioned by patrons.
Tiffany also experimented with enamels, pottery, and jewelry. He was an inventor and artist fortunate enough to be free of financial constraint, giving him the liberty to invent, experiment, design, and try. The product of his vision and passion and skill is now accessible to visitors at the Morse Museum.
Other collections at the Morse include American decorative art and sculpture, including almost 500 Rookwood pieces. The Arts and Crafts collection also includes works by Gustav Stickley and the Roycrofters and leaded-glass windows by Tiffany contemporaries Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, and Arthur Nash.
Location: 445 North Park Ave, Winter Park 32789
The Morse Museum is open 9:30-4 Tuesdays through Saturdays (open till 8 pm Fridays November through April) and 1-4 pm Sundays. Closed Mondays.
Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors (60+), $1 for students, and free for kids under 12. Free admission Fridays 4-8 pm (November through April).
Audio tours are available for free via cellphone.
Parking is available behind the museum.
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