The richly diverse art collection of the Cornell Fine Arts Museum boasts more than 5,000 works and is recognized as one of the largest and most distinguished collections in Florida.
The Rollins collection of paintings began more than a century ago. It grew significantly in 1937 when the Samuel H. Kress Foundation donated several Italian Renaissance paintings including Madonna Enthroned Nursing the Christ Child by Cosimo Rosselli, a Sistine Chapel artist.
In 1941, Winter Park resident and Rollins trustee Jeanette Morse Genius, married to Dr. Hugh McKean, president of Rollins 1951-69, and an art patron and artist in her own right, donated the funds to erect the Morse Gallery of Art. Its collection of American and European art was soon the focus of many benefactors.
Mrs. Jeannette Genius McKean and Mr. Hugh McKean
Rollins College Archives, c. 1942
In 1950, George H. Sullivan, a Winter Park resident, donated a Louis Sonntag painting. Other Sullivan gifts, works by Francesco de Mura and others, followed in 1952 and 1959.
During the 1960s, gifts from alumni Jack and June Myers vastly enriched the old masters collection. In 1966, the McKeans' superb collection of Tiffany glass began a ten-year-long exhibition at the Morse Gallery.
In 1976, George, Rollins class of 1935, and Harriet Cornell contributed more than one million dollars to construct a fine arts complex. The George D. and Harriet W. Cornell Fine Arts Center opened in 1978, and the renovated and enlarged Morse Gallery of Art became the Cornell Fine Arts Museum.
George and Harriet Cornell
On January 20, 2006 the Cornell Fine Arts Museum reopened its doors to the public after an 18-month, $4.5 million renovation. The new building, with six display galleries, a print study room, and an educational gallery has much more space, but CFAM retains the special, intimate character visitors love.
While the Cornell Fine Arts Museum has always played a vital role in the community, the past decade has reflected extraordinary growth as notable works from the collection have been publicly viewed for the first time, and more than 700 new works have been acquired by donation or purchase.