Art Comes Alive: 5 Unique Ways to Celebrate Art in Central Florida

Those of you who follow my Instagram or have been reading my blog for a while know that I’ve always been passionate about the arts. While I never studied art formally in school (aside from an art history class or two), I’ve always loved diving into the mind of the artist and exploring new styles and perspectives.

When we imagine great artwork and museums, we often think of places like New York, Paris, and Florence — all of which have a rich history in the world of art. However, we often forget about some of the treasures right here in our own backyard! Orlando may not immediately jump to mind when we think about art, but the city and its surrounding neighborhoods have their own hidden gems worth exploring. From Mayan Revival architecture to the chapel built for the 1893 World’s Fair, Central Florida is home to a variety of art experiences that everyone should experience.

For those Central Floridians looking to experience art right in your own backyard, check out some of my top local picks!

5 Ways to Experience Art in Central Florida

1. Maitland Art Center
Tucked away on Packwood Avenue, just off the main road, the Maitland Art Center‘s campus once served as a colony for visiting artists to practice their craft. The museum itself features eclectic collections, but to me, the grounds are the main attraction not to be missed. Listed as a National Historic Landmark, the Maitland Art Center is an example of Mayan Revival architecture, featuring a beautiful chapel with both Mayan and Judeo-Christian imagery. The museum has multiple buildings and campuses, so after your tour of the grounds, be sure to check out the Telephone Museum.

5 Places to Experience Art in Central Florida

2. Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens
What do Winter Park and the Czech Republic have in common? Albin Polasek, the Czech sculptor! The Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens in Winter Park feature hundreds of Albin’s sculptures, paintings, and other works. In his seventies, Albin suffered a major stroke and became paralyzed on one side, but still continued to sculpt some of his most well-known pieces in that time. From Man Carving His Own Destiny to Mother Crying Over The World, the artist’s works reflect his own life as well as the current events of that time. His representation of Radegast, a Moravian god from his village, even became the mascot for a Czech brewery and beer. The museum features docent-led tours that will give you more insight on Albin’s life and the impact of his works on the world.

5 Unique Ways to Celebrate Art in Central Florida

3. Bronze Kingdom
Located in the Orlando Fashion Square Mall, Bronze Kingdom features more than 2,000 African art pieces from Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, and other parts of the continent. From bronze to beaded works, the gallery spans 16,000 square feet and also includes pieces from local artists. An added bonus? You can even sit on a real throne! Bronze Kingdom provides tours for visitors and hosts events regularly.

5 Unique Ways to Celebrate Art in Central Florida

4. Morse Museum
The Morse Museum is ideally situated on Park Avenue in Winter Park, and home to the world’s largest collection of Tiffany glass. Louis Comfort Tiffany (whose father founded Tiffany & Co) is well known for his stained glass works, but also designed the 1893 World’s Fair Tiffany Chapel. The Chapel has been restored and is now on display at the Morse Museum. The museum also features other American sculptures and paintings, and visitors can learn about the history of art in Winter Park and Tiffany’s restoration efforts in the introductory video when they first arrive.

IMG_3503

5. Casa Feliz Historic Home & Venue
Designed by architect James Gamble Rogers II, Casa Feliz (Happy House) is a historic home with Spanish influence that is now open to the public. The house was nearly torn down in 2000, but was ultimately saved and moved across the street to its new home on Park Avenue in Winter Park. On Sundays, they host Music at the Casa, featuring live performances with free admission. You can tour the home and learn about its history, as well as the efforts taken to save it. Check out Casa Feliz after grabbing brunch on Park Avenue!

*

What are your favorite ways to experience art in Central Florida? Share yours in the comments section below!

Empire State of Mind: Adventures in New York

Things to Do in New York City

After spending most of my life in a state where the leaves never change colors, I decided to take an October trip to New York to experience autumn. It was my first time visiting New York as an adult — I’d gone once with my family when I was 11, and once in high school for a journalism conference. This time, I’d have full control of my itinerary and truly have the chance to explore.

Although the trip was unseasonably warm, it was a much-needed escape from my real life, and a great way to spend time with old friends and family. I was only there for a few days, and there are a lot of landmarks and museums I wish I’d had time to see on this visit, but I was able to cover a lot of ground that weekend and had a great time finding my way around the city that never sleeps. I stayed with one of my best friends in Hamilton Heights, and loved getting to know the neighborhood.

For those planning a visit to New York City, check out my suggested itinerary items below!

NY - 99

Places We Visited: The Highlights

  • Bryant Park
    I started my first day at Bryant Park, a beautiful park in Midtown not far from the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building. Between the pop-up shops and the life-sized statue of Gertrude Stein, this little park offers beautiful views and plenty of people-watching. Bryant Park also has its own café and food kiosks, and hosts events and ice skating at different points in the year.
  • Federal Hall
    Located on Wall Street, Federal Hall is known as the birthplace of American government, as the site of George Washington’s inauguration and the home of our first Congress and Supreme Court. Federal Hall is free to visit and a must-see for anyone interested in the early history of the United States.
  • 9/11 Memorial
    I paid my respects at the 9/11 Memorial on my first day in New York. Visiting the twin memorial pools and seeing the names of those who died was a sobering experience, but also a powerful one. I plan to spend a day at the museum the next time I visit.
  • Storm King Art Center
    For my second day in town, we decided to spend the morning and afternoon upstate. Storm King Art Center had been a bucket list item for me for a while, and our visit did not disappoint. Being surrounded by abstract sculptures in the rolling hills was the perfect way to spend a fall day! For those visiting for the first time, I highly suggest taking a tram ride around the entire sculpture park so that you can choose which sculptures you’d like to return to.
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art
    This was my first time at The Met, but it quickly became one of my favorite museums I’ve ever visited. From George Washington’s Crossing of the Delaware to the Egyptian collections, there was so much to see that we spent an entire Sunday wandering around the museum and still weren’t able to do it all. It is definitely worth future visits!
  • The Little Red Lighthouse
    As one of the few surviving lighthouses in New York City, The Little Red Lighthouse was worth the dangerous trek off the beaten paths we took to get there! 🙂 The lighthouse is located under the George Washington Bridge and has become the inspiration for a sweet little story called The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge.

Things To Do in NYC: Storm King

 

What We Ate

  • Il Cortile Ristorante
    For my first night in New York City, my college roommates and I reunited in Little Italy to catch up over wine (!) and delicious Italian food. Il Cortile featured live music and served an amazing pumpkin gnocchi to match the season. If you’re looking for a good Italian restaurant, Il Cortile is one to try!
  • Barney Greengrass
    I couldn’t visit New York and not have a bagel at some point. Barney Greengrass is known for their bagels (and their cinnamon raisin was fantastic!), but also offers sandwiches, smoked fish platters, and so much more.
  • Hamilton’s Bakery
    We enjoyed a delicious (and Instagram-worthy) Sunday brunch at Hamilton’s Bakery. Located in Hamilton Heights near my friend’s apartment, Hamilton’s Bakery serves breakfast bowls (I enjoyed the Angelica bowl!), along with sandwiches, avocado toasts, bakery items, and much more. They also offer bottomless mimosas and sangria, if you’re looking to indulge!
  • The Chipped Cup
    This little café in Hamilton Heights quickly became my favorite coffee shop in New York. With uplifting notes on the chalkboard outside, The Chipped Cup is a cozy, relaxing place to stop before a busy day of travel. My pick? The iced blueberry tea. Check them out!

What are your favorite stops in New York? Share in the comments section below!