Florida, United States

Museums of Central Florida

So I live in a suburb of Orlando and although this city screams Disney and Universal to tourists, there a pretty vibrant art scene. Here are just some of my favorite places to spend an intellectual afternoon or evening experiencing art 🙂
The Gallery at Avalon Island
For the record, this is not on an island 🙂 The beautiful building is in a Queen Anne style and has stood since 1886. Apparently, it is currently the oldest operational building in Orlando. The Gallery shows local Contemporary artists and sometimes has literature readings and film

The Details

  • Address: 39 South Magnolia Avenue
  • Hours: Thurs-Sat 11:00am-6:00pm
  • Website: avalongallery.org

Cornell Fine Arts Museum
This museum is actually located on the Rollins College campus in Winter Park. It’s a good “classic” museum, meaning it’s filled with artwork that people can easily enjoy: chubby cherubs, breaktaking landscapes, haunting portraits, and more. Although they have plenty of reallllly cool and thought provoking contemporary art. Everytime I go I am surprised by their collection of high quality art.

The Details

Read more: Thanksgiving Trip: Art History Hunting
Mennello Museum
Ok so I am not a fan of folk art so this museum did not really pull at my art-lovers strings but it’s small and really inexpensive. So it’s a great place to spend some time one afternoon. BONUS: it’s in Lock Haven Park so right next to the Orlando Museum of Art, Orlando science Center, Orlando Repertory Theater, & Orlando Shakespeare Theater. Kill two birds with one stone.

The Details

  • Address: 900 E Princeton Street
  • Hours: Tues-Sat 10:30am – 4:30pm; Sun 12:00pm – 4:30pm
  • Website: mennellomuseum.com

The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art
I send my students here for extra credit after we learn about Gothic art so they can see some first-hand because there is NO WAY my PowerPoint can reproduce the feeling of light shining through gorgeous colored glass and leaving a kaleidoscope on the floor.
Probably my favorite room in the Morse Museum is the Tiffany Chapel. This chapel is richly decorated in a Byzantine-style, so every surface possible is decorated and adorned. There are stained-glass windows, mosaic columns, a baptismal font, and an ornate chandelier in additional to the altar. Believe it or not, this chapel was taken apart and reinstalled in the museum after it was acquired from the St. John the Divine Church in New York.
The Details

  • Address: 445 North Park Avenue
  • Hours: Tues-Sat 9:30am-4:00pm; Sun 1:00pm-4:00pm; closed Mon
  • Website: morsemuseum.org

Orlando Museum of Art
I interned in the Education Department here a few years ago and it holds a special place in my heart. OMA could be considered the flagship museum of the Orlando-area and is probably the largest around here. That being said, it is easily accomplished in 2 hours, 3 if you find something you just can’t peel yourself away from. Their Non-Western permanent collections rotate African and Mesoamerican arts pieces and artifacts. The bulk of their collection is later American artworks, a lot of 20th century pieces. I know this is not necessarily everyone’s cup of tea but sometimes the puzzling pieces bring about the best discussions.
Recently, OMA started a Florida Prize in Contemporary Art, and those exhibits are mind-bendingly cool. What’s even better, is that you get to actually meet the artists because their not dead yet 🙂

The Details

  • Address: 2416 North Mills Avenue
  • Hours: Tues-Fri 10:00am-4:00pm; Sat-Sun 12:00pm-4:00p; closed Mon
  • Website: omart.org

City Arts Factory
This gallery is often overshadowed by SAKs Comedy Club upstairs but is a fantastic place to pop in anytime you happen to be in Downtown Orlando. I have actually attended many events (some science-related even) at City Arts Factory and there is ALWAYS new art to look at. It’s a great location to pop in for FREE in between other things going on Downtown.

The Details

Snap! Orlando
I’ve only been to Snap!Orlando once, sadly, but the photography just blew me away and the event was just so cool. I felt like I was at some hip New York art gallery opening. I keep meaning to take Will because he is into photography. Read my post on an event I went to awhile back at Snap!
The Details

  • Address: 1013 E Colonial Drive (Mills50 District)
  • Hours: Thurs – Sat 11:00am – 4:00pm
  • Website: snaporlando.com

UCF Gallery
Ah my alma mater 🙂 Although a little bit out of the way of the other downtown-oriented museums, if you are on campus it’s worth a peek. The exhibits are always changing with student and faculty work, I especially love the BFA and MFA shows they put on each year.

The Details

  • Address: VAB S1, Rm 117, 12400 Aquarius Agora Drive
  • Hours: Mon-Fri 10:00am-5:00pm
  • Website: gallery.cah.ucf.edu

P.S. The Orlando Arts Magazine through United Arts of Central Florida provides excellent updates and articles of things going on in the area. For a $50 donation to UACF, you can the magazine for a year.

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