Galleries and museums let you see the world through new eyes. Art can take you to a different time and place. Or, when visiting a new city, it can make you feel more connected to your surroundings.
During your next Orlando vacation, get to know the city through its inspiring museums, galleries, and other artsy hot spots.
Loch Haven Cultural Park
Loch Haven Park, north of downtown Orlando, is itself a work of art. Its serene lakeshore and moss-draped trees are as pretty as any painting on a gallery wall. The park is also home to some of the city’s best art museums, like the Orlando Art Museum (OMA).
OMA has enchanted art lovers since 1924.
The massive museum’s permanent collection has everything from African textiles to pop art. OMA also attracts world-class traveling exhibits. In summer 2022, you can see work by 10 of the state’s best artists. The work on display is in the running for the Florida Prize in Contemporary Art.
Loch Haven Park is also home to the Mennello Museum of American Art.
The Mennello has the world’s largest collection of paintings by folk artist Earl Cunningham. You’ll also find pieces by many contemporary American artists.
At the end of your museum day, head outside to the pet-friendly sculpture garden. It boasts a magnificent view of Lake Formosa.
The Mennello Museum costs $5 for adults, with discounts for children, seniors, students, and military families. Admission is free on the second Sunday of each month. On these “Free Family Fundays,” you can partake in guided tours and kids’ art lessons.
If you want to bring some Disney magic home with you, head to WonderGround Gallery at Disney Springs.
This enchanting gallery sells Disney-themed art, including limited edition items. Expect fun theme park posters, colorful prints of Disney characters, and whimsical paintings by Thomas Kinkade Studios. Some pieces are by Disney animators and illustrators. Others were created by rising stars in the local art scene.
WonderGround also hosts artist meet-and-greets where you can get your purchases signed.
CityArts is the heart of the thriving downtown Orlando art scene.
The multi-story art venue, a few blocks away from Lake Eola Park, is impossible to miss. It is housed in one of the area’s oldest and most distinctive structures. The emerald-hued Victorian building was constructed in 1886.
Once you’ve taken in the building’s beauty, there’s more to explore inside.
CityArts sells a wide range of contemporary art. The downstairs gallery houses traveling exhibits. In summer 2022, you can see the work of two Italian artists, one an illustrator and the other a multimedia creator.
Upstairs, you’ll find pieces by local and international artists. There’s also a gallery showcasing art by local high school students.
Sam Flax Orlando
Sign up for short, beginner-friendly art workshops in subjects like calligraphy and stenciling at the family-run art supply chain Sam Flax.
Sam Flax operates a huge store in Orlando’s hip Mills 50 neighborhood. It sells everything from kids’ crayons to top-grade printmaking gear.
Mills 50 is known for its fantastic street art, so be sure to walk around when you’ve finished shopping.
Over 30 buildings in the area feature murals lovingly painted by local artists. Many of these walls were created during events organized by Sam Flax. Even the neighborhood’s dumpsters and storm drains are adorned with vibrant brushstrokes from some of Orlando’s best local artists!
Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens
In 1950, famed sculptor Albin Polasek retired from his teaching job at the Art Institute of Chicago and headed to Florida.
Polasek bought land on the shore of Lake Osceola in Winter Park, north of Orlando. He helped design his new home, drawing inspiration from his native Czech Republic. The house had a large art studio where he made sculptures like the award-winning “Victory of Moral Law.”
In 1961, Polasek and his wife Emily opened the house’s art gallery to the public.
After the sculptor died in 1965, the entire property became a museum. It features 200 Polasek sculptures and a picturesque 3-acre garden. The Polasek Museum also hosts visiting exhibits. In summer 2022, you can see playful works created by Florida Sculptors Guild members.
Crealdé School of Art
Down the road from the Polasek Museum, you’ll find the Crealdé School of Art.
Since 1975, this Winter Park art center has offered fun classes and locally focused art exhibits. They offer day-long workshops in everything from traditional figure drawing to macramé.
If you like your instructor’s work, stop by the gift shop, which sells art made by Crealdé faculty.
The school also gives tours of its studios, sculpture garden, and photo galleries.
Jack’s Place Restaurant & Lounge
An award-winning steakhouse may not be the first place you’d associate with art. But Jack’s Place Restaurant & Lounge is not your typical steakhouse.
At this Rosen Plaza restaurant, you can enjoy mouthwatering rib-eye steak or roasted salmon with Babe Ruth or Elizabeth Taylor.
Jack’s Place is named after Jack Rosen, the father of Rosen Hotels & Resorts president Harris Rosen. Jack Rosen created over 100,000 caricatures in his lifetime, some of which featured famous faces. He drew them at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, where he worked for 30 years. Today, many of these caricatures hang on the walls at Jack’s Place.
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