“It must be amazing to come to work every day and be surrounded by such beautiful things,” I said to one of the security guards at the Morse Museum in pretty Winter Park, Florida just northeast of Orlando.
“Yes, it is, I feel very fortunate, and glad that others appreciate it, too.”
If you’re like me, you might not consider theme-park-heavy Orlando a likely place to find an extraordinary decorative arts museum, and you also might not know much about Louis Comfort Tiffany stained glass other than his famous table lamps, like these…
Tiffany’s creativity went far beyond lamps, although his craftsmanship certainly turned an everyday household object into an illuminated delight.
Here are some highlights from the Morse, which some have called “the most comprehensive and interesting collection of Tiffany anywhere.”
Tiffany Chapel from the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair/Columbian Exposition
So many wonders from the Chicago World’s Fair – the first Ferris Wheel, Juicy Fruit gum, the Olmsted-designed landscaping, shenanigans and murders described in Devil in the White City – but among all that was the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company exhibit which included this chapel, now reassembled at the Morse Museum.
The photo at the top of this post gives you a taste of some of the windows and light fixtures, and here is the altar area….
It is a miracle that we can still see this chapel.
It was disassembled after the Fair, then moved to New York’s Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, then when it began falling apart, Tiffany moved it to his own Long Island estate, Laurelton Hall, which also fell into disrepair and was then gutted by a fire in 1957.
Thankfully, Morse Museum founders Jeannette and Hugh McKean were able to buy the remains of the chapel and spent years pulling everything back together, including furnishings and other items that had wandered off into other hands through art auctions.
Objects from Tiffany’s Laurelton Hall Estate
Although Laurelton Hall fell into disrepair and then burned (see above) dedicated art lovers tracked down as many of its one-of-a-kind items as possible.
I thought this window from Tiffany’s living room fit right into a Florida mood…
The four detailed and beautiful Four Seasons window panels are also a sight to behold – they won Tiffany a big prize at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris.
Here is “Autumn” ….
One reason I particularly enjoyed seeing the Morse Museum is that for decades, I’ve carried around a 1986 poster that highlights part of the stained glass transoms in Tiffany’s Laurelton Hall dining room.
(Update – should have included a shot of the poster!)
They are to the left, at the top of the windows in this photograph….
They framed his view of the waters of Long Island, and it was a thrill to finally see them in person.
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