Today, Tiffany’s unique country home – a showplace for art objects either designed or collected by the famed artist - is the focus of an exhibition at the Morse Museum of American Art in Winter Park that was added in May of 2000, after a year of research, the exhibition is the largest collection of objects from Laurelton Hall ever shown.
It includes almost 100 objects from the Morse’s permanent collection of Laurelton Hall materials. In the three galleries housing the exhibition, the museum has on view leaded-glass windows, ceramics, blown glass and furniture from the house, plus historical photographs, architectural plans and a 1 ½ -minute video of archival film footage from Laurelton Hall.
The nucleus of the Morse’s collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany works – the most comprehensive in the world – is from Laurelton Hall. At the invitation of a Tiffany daughter in 1957, Hugh and Jeannette McKean, who built the collection at the Morse, traveled to Laurelton Hall to rescue what they could after a fire left the house in ruins. Understanding Laurelton Hall, which was an art school, museum and retreat as well as a home, is essential to understanding Tiffany, said museum Director Laurence J. Ruggiero. Tiffany’s estate on Long Island was the most personal and far-reaching design project of the artist’s career.
The Laurelton Hall estate, by all accounts magnificent, included an 84-room mansion, conservatories, tennis courts, a bathing beach and 60 acres of formal gardens said to cost more than the house itself. Its design, which rejected the prevalent European influences of the day, was at once straightforward and exotic.
The Laurelton Hall exhibition suggests something of the Tiffany estate’s former splendor. It also represents the museum’s commitment to continue in months and years to come its research on Laurelton Hall, the expansion and refining of its installation and the conservation of objects from the estate still in archival storage.
Also on permanent exhibit at the museum is the Chapel Tiffany created for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. The Chapel was contained in a specially built building at Laurelton Hall.