Founded in 1941 by Ralph Hubbard Norton and his wife, Elizabeth Calhoun Norton, the Norton Museum of Art still welcomes visitors into its beautiful galleries and gardens via its stunning architecture and beautiful collections. Norton was an industrialist who made his fortune through the Acme Steel Company in Chicago. They collected stunning pieces for their home, but soon became interested in the works for the sake of the art itself rather than the prestige of owning masterpieces. The couple formed a sizable collection of sculptures and paintings by the time Norton semi-retired in 1935 and had begun spending more time away from the cold of Chicago and in the luxurious winter months of the Palm Beaches in Florida.
Eventually, the impressive collection of the Nortons found its home in Florida, just one year after the construction of the Norton Museum of Art began. This became South Florida’s first such institution. The art deco building was designed by Marion Simms Wyeth of the well-trusted firm in the area. The museum opened to the public in February 1941 but the Nortons continued adding to the family collection until Norton’s death in 1953. This collection is the core of the museum’s collection today.
At the museum, you’ll find more than 7,600 works in the permanent collection in give curatorial departments – European, Chinese, Contemporary, Photography, and American. Many of these works have been added thanks to the continued endowment of the Nortons. Some of the more well-known pieces include Jackson Pollock’s "Night Mist" and Stuart Davis’s "New York Mural."
The Collection of Chinese Art is a must-see, with over 700 artifacts that trace China's art history. Another favorite spot is the Persian Sealife Ceiling by Dave Chihuly, make sure you bring your camera for this one!
While this is a ticketed museum, you can explore the galleries for free on Fridays and Saturdays thanks to the Lunder Foundation of the Peter and Paula Lunder Family, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation.
Cover image from @nortonmuseumofart on Instagram.