The Museums of Winter Park Florida

We are presently staying in St. James Plantation, NC house sitting for friends while they enjoy a trip in Scandinavia. It is a forty five minute drive from there to Wilmington so a blog about our life here would be all about visiting Lowe’s Home Improvement stores and similar venues in preparation for our move on 2/Aug. I feel that would be of limited interest, but we did visit two nice museums in Winter Park, Florida before heading north a little less than two weeks ago.

The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art houses the largest collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany in the world. Tiffany housed many of his best works at Laurelton Hall, his 65 room mansion on Long Island. After his death, the home fell into disrepair and eventually burned in 1957. After the fire, Tiffany’s daughter contacted Hugh and Jeanette Genius (I love the name) McKean to salvage as much of the art as possible. Hugh had studied at Laurelton Hall in 1930. To make a long story short, they recovered all the art they could from Laurelton, Jeanette founded the museum and named it after her grandfather, and Hugh served as director for 53 years. If you like Tiffany, you will love this museum!The museum has a collection of Tiffany lamps, windows, jewelry, paintings, blown glass, leaded glass, and mosaics.A sample of the stained glass windows on exhibit.Perhaps most amazing of all, the museum houses the chapel that Tiffany created for the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. After the exposition it was moved to Laurelton and ultimately recovered by the McKeans. The bottom picture is the chandler in the chapel.

The second museum we liked was the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens. Polasek was a Czech American sculpture who created 400 works in wood, stone, or metal in his lifetime. Half of them are on display at this museum and garden which was once his home. He served as the head of the sculpture department of The Art Institute of Chicago for thirty years. When he retired at age 70 to Winter Park, he soon suffered a stroke and was paralyzed on his left side. Despite this impediment, he created 18 major works using only his right hand! For some he would hold the chisel and an assistant would hit it with the hammer. The docent who led our private tour was very excited when she learned that we were familiar with Brookgreen Gardens (our former home was ten minutes away and we are members). She claimed we were the first she had met. Two of Polasek’s works are displayed there so we have to get back to see them before our membership expires.One of his most famous works, Man Carving His Own Destiny, was also one of his first from 1907.One of my favorites was this fountain where the water creates the strings of the harp.

We leave in a little over a week to visit our daughter Carrie and her family in Colorado and then go to St Paul, MN to visit our friends Ron and Jean. Carrie’s home has been the subject of several of my most popular posts, so we will see if anything is new there. We return to Wilmington just in time to close on our new home one day later. There is no rest for the weary!

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