the Art and History Museums – Maitland’s (A&H’s) Maitland Art Center – became the first National Historic Landmark in greater Orlando and the 44th in the state of Florida.
Awarded on September 30, 2014, by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, the designation applies to places that “outstandingly illustrate or interpret the heritage of the United States.”
A formal plaque dedication ceremony at the A&H Maitland Art Center will be held on January 8, 2015 at 11:30 a.m. Details to follow.
“We are very proud to receive this honor,” said Andrea Bailey Cox, CEO and Executive Director of Maitland Museums of Art and History. “We invite the community to celebrate with us by visiting our unique ‘Oasis of Creativity’ in the heart of Central Florida.”
Founded in 1937 by visionary artist and architect Jules André Smith – with the patronage of Mary Louise Curtis Bok – A&H’s Maitland Art Center is built in the rare Mayan Revival style, adorned with copious sculptural reliefs inspired by iconographies Mesoamericans, Asians and Africans. Originally known as the Research Studio, it was part of a colony that offered artists a place to live, experiment with new forms, and escape from the demands of everyday life.
Today, two campuses of the Museums of Art and History – Maitland include gardens, diverse collections, ongoing exhibits, educational programs and a pair of sites on the National Register of Historic Places (the Maitland Art Center and the Victorian-era Waterhouse Residence Museum). Additionally, Smith’s legacy continues through annual residency and studio programs that welcome artists from across the country.
The broad application to become a National Historic Landmark was completed by A&H’s History Curator, Christine Madrid French, with support from the Town of Maitland. The rigorous nomination process included reviews from subject matter experts, advisory boards, various academics and multiple federal agencies. Of particular significance is that the Research Studio buildings are one of the only remaining examples of “fantastic architecture” in the Southeast.
Across the country, just over 2,500 sites are considered National Historic Landmarks. In Central Florida, there are only two in Brevard County (the Windover Archaeological Site and Cape Canaveral Air Force Base) and two in Polk County (Bok Tower Gardens and the Architectural District of Florida Southern College inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright).
“Our community truly has a hidden gem in A&H’s Maitland Art Center,” said Maitland Mayor Howard Schieferdecker. “I hope National Historic Landmark status will allow more people to experience and support this wonderful part of our heritage.”
Located near Lake Sybelia at 231 W. Packwood Ave., one block west of South Orlando Avenue, A&H’s Maitland Art Center galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets ($3 for adults, $2 for children and seniors) gardens are open to the public. Memberships start at $30 per year.