Located on E. Silver Springs Boulevard in Ocala, the Appleton Museum of Art is a hidden gem. Not only does it have an impressive permanent collection but it sponsors temporary exhibits that enter it into the realm of much larger museums.
The Appleton Museum was built on 44 acres of land donated by the city of Ocala and opened in 1987. The majority of the permanent collection was contributed by Arthur I. Appleton and his wife Martha of Bridlewood Farm. Her portrait is on display in the lobby. Mr. Appleton’s plan was brought to fruition by Tampa architect Dwight Holmes. The Museum is now a part of the College of Central Florida.
Depending on your interests, you can stay on the first floor and visit the African and Asian collections or climb the stairs to the second floor and visit the European and American portions of the permanent collection. This writer is a fan of European and American art so that is where we headed.
The first room offers Early Dutch paintings including one by Nicolaes Maes who was trained in the studio of Rembrandt and whose works have been and still are being attributed to the master, he is that good. The second room offers landscapes on one side and seascapes on the other. An impressive painting by Otto Reinhold Jacobi caught our interest.
The collection continues to hold your interest as you walk through the European collection.
Henry Raeburn’s portrait of Fitz Rogers displays his signature use of color with a lighter background and Thomas Sully’s portrait of Hannah Holly Bell Rogers is particularly lovely. If you are a fan of William-Adolphe Bougereau, you will appreciate his painting of his favorite gypsy girl knitting.
These were some of this writers particular favorites, there is so much more. By the time you have made your way to the end of the exhibits on the second floor you have traveled across the Western World and through 500 years of time.
The bones of the museum are wonderful. The rooms are striking in their color choice and lighting and seating is provided for visitors to appreciate the treasures they are viewing. Interspersed with the paintings are decorative arts which make for a very appealing presentation. A visually attractive exhibition of art glass was especially engaging.
More than 18,000 objects make up the permanent collection. You can walk through several fascinating exhibits on the first floor from the African Continent, Pre-Columbian Americas and Asia.
Special exhibits are very much a part of the flavor of the museum. Currently, there are two temporary exhibits, “Journey into Imagination, 100 Years of Animation Art” and “Paradise Park Remembers”. An installation by Patrick Dougherty entitled “Stickwork” was constructed between Feb 1st and the 19th and will remain standing for several years until it decomposes.
The Appleton has a variety of programs throughout the year for both adults and children. First Saturday is a program for families offered in the ARTSpace and themed tours are also offered. Check the website for more information.
If you are planning to visit the Ocala area, I highly recommend that you make time for a visit to the Appleton Museum of Art, you won’t be disappointed.