Visit Some Great Museums While You Are In Orlando

By: Mark Whichard

Orlando is rightly famous for Disney World and the other exciting theme parks in the region, but it also has some fine museums and cultural centers that can give you a nice change of pace and culturally enrich your vacation. Here is a brief guide to some of the museums of Orlando.

Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens

Albin Polasek (1879 - May 19, 1965) was a Czech-American sculptor and educator, and you can get to know his works on the beautiful grounds of his estate. The sculptures are placed in the museum's lush gardens on the shores of Lake Oseola. Here is the necessary information for visiting this museum: 633 Osceola Avenue, Winter Park, Florida 32789,
phone: 407-647-6294, fax: 407-647-0410, info@polasek.org

Railroad Central Florida Railroad Museum

If you are fan of the old railroads of America, then this is the place for you. The museum has railroad artifacts and memorabilia with particular emphasis on Central Florida. Here is the essential visiting information: visiting hours 1PM - 5PM daily in former Taveres & Gulf Railroad. Admission is free. 101 S. Boyd Street, Winter Garden, Florida
phone: 407-656-0559

Harry P. Leu Gardens

The Harry P. Leu Gardens are situated on fifty acres of peaceful grounds. Here you can enjoy "Old Florida" at a leisurely pace. Stroll along meandering paths shaded by ancient oaks, forests of camellias and giant camphor trees or take a guided tour of the Leu House Museum, a restored late nineteenth-century home that began as a Florida farmhouse. You can also enjoy the Garden House with its romantic view of Lake Rowena. Here is the essential information for this center: 1920 N. Forest Ave., Orlando, FL 32803-1537
Telephone (407) 246-2620, Fax (407) 246-2849

Mennello Museum

The Mennello Museum of American Folk Art endeavors to preserve, exhibit, and interpret an outstanding permanent collection of paintings by Earl Cunningham (1893-1977). The Museum also seeks to enrich the public through special exhibitions, publications, and programs that celebrate outstanding traditional and contemporary Amercian folk artists. Here is the contact information: 900 East Princeton Street
Orlando, Florida 32803, 407.246.4278 (tel), 407.246.4329 (fax)
mennello.museum@cityoforlando.net

Morse Museum of American Art

The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art houses the most comprehensive collection of the works of Louis Comfort Tiffany found anywhere, a major collection of American art pottery and representative collections of late-19th and early-20th century American paintings, graphics and the decorative arts. Here is the address and phone number: 445 North Park Ave, Winter Park FL (407) 645-5311, (407) 645-5324 for recorded information

Wells'Built Museum of African American History

Dr. William M. Wells was a prominent African-American physician in Orlando during the first half of the 20th century. He created the South Street Casino to host touring black bands and, since Orlando was rigorously segregated, he opened the Wells' Built Hotel next door to house the musicians. Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Ray Charles, Cab Calloway, Ivory Joe Hunter, and many other musical greats played the Casino and stayed at the hotel over the years. The Casino is gone now, but the hotel remains. It has been converted into a modest museum housing memorabilia of Orlando's African-American community along with some African art on loan from local collectors. Here is the address: 511 West South Street, Orlando 32801, (407) 245-7535, Just west of I-4 near Church Street

These are just some of the museums and cultural centers in the greater Orlando area. From looking at this list you can see that it is possible to add some enjoyable variety to the standard Orlando vacation by soaking in the rich culture of this region.

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