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Winter Park - home of the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Days Out

The city of Winter Park is situated north-east of and adjacent to Orlando. Due to it’s close proximity to Orlando, Winter Park is a city which many commuters traverse to access Downtown Orlando. However, on a cool sunny Spring day, it is the ideal place to while away a few pleasant hours.

For easy access leave the I4 at junction 87 and head east on the 426 (Fairbanks Avenue) for approximately three miles until you turn left on to Park Avenue. This takes you through the centre of scenic Olde Winter Park which features open park space, residential areas and a side street shopping district. This avenue is and old cobbled street punctuated by designer shops, galleries of all shape and size, restaurants and curb side cafes, some of which are hidden and recessed behind other shops.

Park Avenue is quite a long tree lined road and at number 445 North Park Avenue you will find the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art. A visit to this museum is undoubtedly one of the highlights of a visit to Winter Park. Situated next to the museum is a multi-storey car park in which you can park for free on levels 4 and 5.

The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art houses the most comprehensive collection of the works of Louis Comfort Tiffany, who is renowned for his beautiful art deco glassware. The Morse has work in every medium and type produced by Tiffany and his companies. These include paintings, jewellery, blown glass, leaded glass, enamels, pottery, mosaics and art and architectural objects from his Long Island country estate, Laurelton Hall.

The museum was founded by Jeannette Genius McKean in 1942 and named after her Grandfather.

She had long been an admirer of Tiffany’s art and had originally established the museum, then named The Morse Gallery of Art on the campus of Rollins College, Winter Park. After hearing from one of Tiffany’s daughters, in 1957, that The Laurelton Hall Estate had burned to a ruin, Jeanette McKean made a decision to rescue the Tiffany Treasures which were about to be bulldozed along with the remainder of the debris from the fire. Jeanette’s husband, Hugh McKean, had been an art student at Tiffany’s Laurelton Estate in 1930, and was her ardent supporter in this cause. He later remembered her exact words at the scene of the devastation, “Let’s buy everything that is left and try to save it! ” The centerpiece of the museum is the Tiffany Collection. This collection includes examples in every medium Tiffany explored, in every type of work he produced and from every period of his life.

Arguably the most outstanding exhibit is the magnificently reconstructed Tiffany Chapel that was originally created for the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. The chapel was fully reassembled at the museum in April 1999 and it’s brilliantly colourful windows, mosaics, Byzantine – Romanesque architectural elements and furnishings could be seen by the general public for the first time in more than a hundred years.

In a fitting tribute to Tiffany’s masterpiece, Laurelton Hall, within the museum certain of the hall’s rooms have been in part recreated using the original Tiffany artefacts giving the visitor an unique insight to the genius of Louis Comfort Tiffany.

It is very easy to while away two or three hours at the Morse Museum. Add to this a visit to the Historic Museum of Winter Park, a meander through the park and a stroll along the tree lined streets taking in the shops and possibly a quick bite to eat or drink and you will very easily have spent the majority of your day in Winter Park.

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