Tiffany Stained Glass Wonders at Morse Museum in Orlando

Interior of 1893 Tiffany Chapel Chicago World's Fair reconstructed at Morse Museum Florida near Orlando (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Just some of the beautiful art inside the 1893 Tiffany Chapel made for the Chicago World’s Fair, reconstructed at the Morse Museum in Winter Park, Florida, near Orlando. The emerald green cross-shaped light fixture blew me away.  (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

 

“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…

A couple of Tiffany lamps including Wisteria at the Morse Museum in Winter Park FL near Orlando (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

A couple of the many Tiffany lamps – the Wisteria in foreground – at the Morse Museum in Winter Park FL (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

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….

Altar area of the Tiffany Chapel from the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, now reassembled at the Morse Museum in Winter Park FL near Orlando (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Altar area of the Tiffany Chapel from the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, now reassembled at the Morse Museum in Winter Park FL (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

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…

Maiden Feeding Flamingos window c. 1892 by Tiffany at the Morse Museum in Winter Park FL near Orlando (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

The “Maiden Feeding Flamingos in the court of a Roman house” window c. 1892 by Tiffany at the Morse Museum in Winter Park FL (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

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” ….

Autumn panel from the Four Seasons series by Tiffany at the Morse Museum Winter Park FL near Orlando (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

The “Autumn” panel from the Four Seasons stained glass series by Tiffany at the Morse Museum in Winter Park Florida, near Orlando (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

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!)

Poster from 1986 featuring the Morse Museum Tiffany stained glass windows in the Laurelton Hall dining room (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Poster from 1986 featuring the Morse Museum Tiffany stained glass windows in the Laurelton Hall dining room (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

They are to the left, at the top of the windows in this photograph….

Photograph of Tiffany's Laurelton Hall dining room c. 1925, at the Morse Museum in Winter Park FL

Photograph of Tiffany’s Laurelton Hall dining room c. 1925, at the Morse Museum in Winter Park FL

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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