BY LENNIE BENNETT
Times Art Critic
The holiday season is about giving and the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art has a most generous gift to the community. The Holiday Weekend Open House offers free admission beginning Friday afternoon and continuing through Saturday and Sunday.
The Winter Park museum is best known for its extensive collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933), the decorative design genius who, among many innovations, transformed stained glass. Those pretty glass lamp shades with intricate designs that you can buy almost anywhere now? They began, expensively, with him. You'll find a great cache of them on view at the museum.
At the Morse, a chapel he created of glass mosaics and stained glass windows has been reassembled to its luminous magnificence. A new wing features a trove of beautiful decorative objects and design elements that were in Laurelton Hall, his great estate on Long Island, finished in 1905, that was his aesthetic masterpiece. It was destroyed by fire in 1957 but Morse founders and collectors Hugh and Jeannette McKean, friends of the Tiffany family, salvaged what they could and spent decades searching for any remaining contents that had been dispersed after Tiffany's death.
The museum is more than a Tiffany repository, though. It also houses excellent collections of paintings, sculpture and furniture from the late 19th and early 20th centuries as well as a sizeable collection of items from the American Arts and Crafts Movement.
The museum is located on Winter Park's main street, which has dozens of charming shops, restaurants, a few upscale chain stores such as Williams-Sonoma and a big park.
Go for the day!