About This Episode
It’s amazing what you’ll find around just about every corner in the Orlando area. Over in Winter Park they have one of the most comprehensive collections of art from Louis Comfort Tiffany in the world at the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art! Yes! Right here in the Orlando area! I visited the Morse Museum to see all the treasures they house. You won’t believe what you’ll see – from Tiffany lamps, to Tiffany stained-glass windows, jewelry, mosaic work and more!
Although internationally renowned for its unique, visually magnificent, and historically invaluable Tiffany collection, the Morse Museum is more than a Tiffany museum. It is also a treasure house of American decorative art from the mid-19th century to the early 20th century, with especially rich holdings in the area known as Arts and Crafts.
The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art is open to the public six days a week throughout the year with the exception of some major holidays. Parking is available at the Morse Museum’s rear entrance. The Morse Museum is located on Park Avenue in Winter Park, Florida.
Location: The Morse Museum, 445 North Park Avenue, Winter Park, FL 32789
Phone: (407) 645-5311
One of the greatest things about living in Orlando is the hidden treasures one can find just about anywhere you go.
Today we are headed about 7 miles Northeast of Orlando to the city of Winter Park. This tony neighborhood is like the Rodeo Drive of Orlando with high-end boutique shops and restaurants.
Winter Park also is the home to the most comprehensive collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany art, glass, lamps and jewelry you will find in the world – carefully curated at the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art right on Park Avenue. How did it come to be here, and what treasures will you find? We’ll find out, coming up next!
So, how did the world’s most comprehensive collection of Tiffany come to reside in Winter Park, Florida? Let’s start at the beginning.
Louis Comfort Tiffany, born February 18, 1848, was an American artist and designer primarily working in the medium of decorative arts between 1870 and 1930. Tiffany designed stained glass windows, glass mosaics, blown glass, ceramics, jewelry, enamels, metalwork and is most often associated with his famous lamps.
Tiffany used all his skills in the design of his own house, the 84-room Laurelton Hall, on Long Island, New York. Later this estate was donated to his foundation to house art students on fellowship. The home was destroyed by a fire in 1957. This unfortunate fire, along with one of his former art students and husband to the granddaughter of one of Winter Park’s most influential founders, would play a major role in the creation of the Morse Museum and bringing the Tiffany collection to Winter Park.
The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art was named in honor of Morse – a significant city father that helped build Winter Park. Born September 23, 1833 in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, Morse became an American businessman and philanthropist. Shortly after graduating from the St. Johnsbury Academy in 1850, he joined E. & T. Fairbanks – marketers of platform scales, and other industrial products, critical to the westward expansion of the country during that time – eventually establishing a branch that would go on to be known as Fairbanks-Morse corporation headquartered in Chicago.
Morse first came to Winter Park in 1881 at age 48 with his friend and associate, Franklin Fairbanks for which a major thoroughfare in Winter Park is named. Morse’s greatest involvement in Winter Park began in 1904 when he took over the operation of the Winter Park Land Company – a major land developer of the city. He had become the largest landowner in the area. His land donations to the city, many of them made anonymously, helped fund construction of Winter Park City Hall, the municipal golf course and Central Park.
Elizabeth Morse was the first child and only daughter of Charles Hosmer Morse. Though she spent time in Florida, Elizabeth Morse’s life was rooted back in Chicago, where she was born in 1872.
Elizabeth’s daughter Jeannette visited often in Winter Park with her grandfather and had fond memories of his home. Eventually she enrolled as an art student at Rollins College in Winter Park. It was there she met her future husband Hugh F. McKean, a Rollins art professor.
Like Jeannette, Hugh McKean was also an artist. An early painting of his, submitted by his father, won him a fellowship to study with a group of students at Laurelton Hall, the home of Louis Comfort Tiffany.
Then one day in 1957, one of Tiffany’s daughters wrote to inform the McKeans that Laurelton Hall, was no more. A fire destroyed what once housed aspiring artists like Hugh. It was Jeannette that suggested they save what survived the fire by rescuing all that was left.
That acquisition by the McKeans’, has now grown to one the most comprehensive collections of Tiffany art that exists in the world. This collection can be seen today at the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art in Winter Park.
Museum Pieces with voice over to accompany key pieces of art.
One of the Morse Museums most prized exhibits is the Tiffany Chapel interior created for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, it has been painstaking reassembled in all its ecclesiastical splendor and must be experienced in person to truly observe its beauty.
In addition to the collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany, The Morse Museum is truly an American Art Museum with continually refreshed exhibits and lectures on topics such as Art Nouveau in the United States, American Art Pottery and Jewelry in America.
The Morse Museums ongoing educational and community outreach programs include Seasonal Events, Lecture Series, Friday Brown Bag Matinee’s and exclusive Member programs and receptions.