Some wealthy people use their money for yachts. Some use it for the benefit of the community. Jeannette McKean founded a museum in 1942 to bring American art to the small town of Winter Park and named it after her father Charles Hosmer Morse, a major benefactor for the town. Her husband, Hugh McKean, was its director for 55 years. In the 1950s, the two worked to create the most comprehensive collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany’s [1848-91933] work in the world.
Tiffany is mostly know for his glass lamps, windows and mosaics. But he was also a painter, decorator, architect and photographer whose work also included pottery, enamels and jewelry.
He created a Byzantine-Romanesque chapel to show off his work at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. After the fair, the chapel was moved several times finally disassembled and stored in crates. The McKeans acquired what remained of the chapel in 1959 and recreated it as far as possible using 1893 photos.
Similarly, the museum also rescued and restored portions of Tiffany’s Long Island estate, Laurelton Hall, which was long neglected after his death and gutted by fire. Tiffany had designed and supervised the construction of every aspect of the estate from its structure and fixtures to its rugs, furniture and windows.
Despite its focus on Tiffany, museum exhibits also include other examples of American art. Several of those items make me believe Jeanette or Hugh McKean or both must have had an active sense of humor.
Admission to the museum is inexpensive. Indeed, on Friday evenings it is free. Click here for more information. We previously visited a chapel by Tiffany in Aurora, New York. Click here for that post.
Click on photos to enlarge.