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West Palm Beach Point of Interest: Norton Museum of Art

There is a museum of art in West Palm Beach, Florida called the Norton Museum of Art. In addition to European, American, and Chinese art, the museum’s holdings also contain contemporary art, photography, and design. It surpassed the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota in 2003 to become Florida’s largest museum. Ralph Hubbard Norton (1875–1953) and his first wife Elizabeth Calhoun Norton established the Norton Museum of Art in 1941. Retired Acme Steel Co. chief Norton came to West Palm Beach with his large collection of paintings and sculptures he intended to share. He purchased two houses on Worth Avenue in West Palm Beach, built the museum in the back of one, and turned it into a gallery for his collection.

The Norton Museum of Art has three buildings: the original home at 1730 Worth Avenue (the Piazza), an art storage building next door , and a modern wing at 2300 Worth Avenue. The museum is one of the first art museums in Florida to provide free admission. In 2004, the Norton Museum’s “American Masters” exhibition included Andy Warhol’s “Café with Chairs”, Alex Katz’s “Lull aby”, and a sculpture by George Segal.

The museum’s first building was added in 2006, providing space for art storage and conservation of the collection. In 2007, Norton Museum received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to provide educational programming at its three locations as well as on- line. The museum is located at 1730 Worth Avenue in West Palm Beach, Florida. The building itself was designed by architect John Eberson of the firm of Gensler, Inc., and it houses two buildings: a former residence built in 1929 by Edward Harkness for his son , Richard, and the museum itself. The home is constructed of limestone with stucco, with a six-foot (1.8 m) high portico on its east side facing Worth Avenue.

The house’s interior features original carved oak doors by Charles Allen Harrison of New York City , who was also the architect of the Palm Beach Post Office. The house has been renovated by preservationist John Norton, who lived in it for many years before his death in 2007. The museum’s second building is a two-story structure built around 1967 as an art storage facility on Worth Avenue.

The Norton Museum of Art is the only art museum in Florida to have an entire building dedicated solely to storage and conservation of its collection. The third building, a modern wing at 2300 Worth Avenue, was designed by architect Richard Rieboldt. It houses four floors of gallery space and a six-level underground storage facility. The museum is located at the corner of Worth Avenue and University Drive in West Palm Beach, Florida. It opened to the public on May 22, 2004, with an exhibition entitled “Contemporary Portraits”.

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