At the north end of the 10-block section of Park Avenue making up Winter Park's popular upscale dining and shopping destination is the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art. This site has been the museum's home for more than 20 of its 75 plus years.
The Morse Museum is best known for having the world's largest collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany works. A number of other beautiful collections round out the museum's holdings, with emphasis on American decorative art spanning the mid-19th to early 20th centuries. There's also a variety of European ceramics, glass, metalwork, and jewelry, as well as carnival glass, outdoor commercial signs from Central Florida, and other collections of tangential interest around the museum's areas of focus.
In addition, the museum updates exhibitions regularly, providing opportunities to see more of its permanent collection. Guest talks and lectures from renowned scholars, free film screenings, open house events around a few major holidays, family programs, and other public events enhance experiences at the Morse.
History of the Morse Museum
Jeannette Genius McKean founded the museum in 1942 as the Morse Gallery of Art, and it was housed on the nearby Rollins College Campus. Its namesake, her grandfather, was a local philanthropist from Chicago. Mrs. McKean's husband, Hugh F. McKean, was the museum's director from its founding up until his death in 1995.
The museum moved from Rollins to East Welbourne Avenue in 1977, and in the mid-1980s it was rebranded with the name it has today, the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art. Then, on the 4th of July in 1995, the museum was again relocated to its current location on North Park Avenue. Following a few expansions over the years, the privately operated and privately funded venue now encompasses over 42,000 square feet.
Tiffany at the Morse Museum
The Morse Museum's collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany is its biggest draw. The collection isn't just the world's largest; it's also well-rounded to offer a comprehensive view of the artist's work. The collection includes examples of work from every period of the artist's career, in every medium he worked in, and from every series he produced.
Among other items, visitors to the museum can examine Tiffany leaded glass windows and lamps, other glass work, marble, stone, jewelry, mosaics, and furnishings from the chapel interior created for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
The collection also includes leaded glass, blown glass, pottery, historical photos, architectural plans and other objects of interest from Laurelton Hall, Tiffany's Long Island estate. The Laurelton Hall galleries also feature the stunning, fully restored Daffodil Terrace. This 18-by-32-foot outdoor room features eight 11-foot marble columns topped with bouquets of glass daffodils. This Laurelton Hall wing, housing about 250 items, opened following a museum expansion in 2011.
Friday Nights at the Morse
Every Friday in November through April, the Morse Museum extends its hours from the normal weekday closing time of 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm and admission is free in this four-hour window. On many of these Friday evenings, there are special events and offerings to enhance the visitor experience. Live music, family tours, curator tours, and art and craft demonstrations are common.
The Holiday Season at the Morse
Friday Nights at the Morse are lots of fun during the holiday season, with great concerts and other special offerings. That's not the only way to celebrate the holidays with the Morse, though. One of the annual free-admission open houses takes place each year on Christmas Eve day, December 24, and lasts for the museum's full operating hours.
Christmas in the Park, which began in 1979, has become a beloved Winter Park and Morse Museum tradition. On the first Thursday in December, leaded glass windows by Tiffany are illuminated in Central Park along Park Avenue and the Bach Festival Choir delivers a festive concert. The event is free and typically lasts about two hours.
If You Go
Address: 445 North Park Ave., Winter Park, FL 32789
Phone: (407) 645-5311 extension 100
- Tues – Sat: 9:30 am – 4:00 pm (and open until 8:00 pm on Fridays, November through April only)
- Sun: 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
- Closed Mondays and most major holidays