The Norton Museum of Art was founded by Ralph and Elizabeth Norton in 1941. These Nortons preceded Anne Norton, who founded the nearby sculpture gardens. Ralph Norton was a steel executive who ran the Acme Steel Company in Chicago. After he retired in 1935, he and his family started spending more time in South Florida (as older people tend to do).
By 1940, the Nortons had acquired a sizable art collection. They eventually decided on opening South Florida's first art museum, where they could display their works. The Nortons continued to collect more art until Ralph passed away in 1953.
While the Nortons' contributions jumpstarted the museum's collection, it has steadily continued to acquire more art over the last several decades. It now has over 7,000 works. The art is divided into five main categories: American, Chinese, European, Photography, and Contemporary.
The museum began an annual exhibition called "Recognition of Art by Women" in 2011, which celebrates both painters and sculptors.
In 2013, the museum started a large-scale renovation. The new evolution of the museum opened in February of 2019. It has expanded gallery space, classrooms, a large auditorium, a sculpture garden, and more.
Here's a look at the new museum space:
The Norton Museum has a special program called Art After Dark, which is an ongoing series of all kinds of free events, such as live performances, workshops, film screenings, and lectures. One of the most popular events is Jazz Friday, which occurs on the first Friday of each month. Admission is free! If you want to make a night of it, the museum also has a restaurant which is kept open during the nighttime programming. Art After Dark takes place on Friday evenings from 5–10pm.
The museum is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 10am–5pm. It's open on Friday from 10am–10m, and Sunday from 11am–5pm. It's closed on Wednesday. Admission is free on Friday and Saturday!
Cover image courtesy of Norton Museum of Art.