The Morse Museum, which began its life as a small museum on the Rollins College campus organizing shows of loaned objects, is today home to the world’s most comprehensive collection of works by American designer and artist Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848–1933). Its collection, including other art from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, was built over five decades by Jeannette Genius McKean, the Museum’s founder, and her husband, Hugh McKean, the Museum’s visionary first director. The Museum’s history includes two moves, two major expansions in its current location on Park Avenue, and more.
Jeannette Genius founds the Morse Gallery of Art on the campus of Rollins College, naming it in memory of her grandfather, industrialist and philanthropist Charles Hosmer Morse. It opens on February 17 with art professor Hugh F. McKean as the first director.
Jeannette and Hugh McKean (married in 1945) organize Works of Art by Louis Comfort Tiffany, the first significant exhibition of the artist’s work since his death. The success of this exhibition sets the McKeans on the course that will make the Morse the world’s leading repository of the art of Louis Comfort Tiffany.
The McKeans travel to Louis Comfort Tiffany’s burned Long Island estate, Laurelton Hall, and save all they can.
The McKeans create the Charles Hosmer Morse Foundation, which with additional funding from the Elizabeth Morse Genius Foundation established by Jeannette in memory of her mother, supports the Museum.
On February 1, the Morse Gallery of Art opens to the public in a new home at 151 E. Welbourne Avenue in downtown Winter Park.
Hugh McKean’s book The ‘Lost’ Treasures of Louis Comfort Tiffany is published by Doubleday, advancing knowledge and appreciation of Tiffany on a national scale.
On May 20, the Morse Gallery of Art officially changes its name to The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art.
On July 4th, the Museum opens at its current location, 445 N. Park Avenue.
In April, the Museum opens Louis Comfort Tiffany’s chapel interior from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in a 4,300-square-foot expansion.
On February 19, the Museum opens a 12,000-square foot wing to provide the first permanent installation of surviving materials from Louis Comfort Tiffany’s Long Island estate, Laurelton Hall.
In February, the Morse celebrates its 75th anniversary, its legacy, and its continuing mission to make art a part of the lives of the people of its community.