The Morse Gallery of Art (detail), c. 1943, Photograph, Cornell Fine Arts Museum archives
(January 4 – April 13, 2014)

The McKean Legacy at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum

The McKean Legacy at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum celebrated the cultural vision Jeannette Genius and Hugh McKean cultivated at Rollins College. For more than 30 years, Dr. and Mrs. McKean demonstrated how essential art was to life seamlessly incorporating fine art into Rollins’ campus. Committed to education and open cultural exchange, they brought diverse exhibitions to Winter Park to be displayed at the Morse Gallery of Art established with the support of the college by the then Jeannette Genius in 1942. Just ten years after its foundation, the Morse Art Gallery had brought more than 50 exhibitions to campus ranging from traveling exhibitions of contemporary American art and art from other countries to art by U.S. Servicemen, Rollins’ students, and artists working in Florida and the larger region of the South.  The McKeans also organized exhibitions especially for the Gallery including an exhibition of modern interior design in 1951, the landmark exhibition Works of Art by Louis Comfort Tiffany in 1955 and an exhibition dedicated to Rookwood Pottery in 1967, among others.

As artists, patrons, curators, arts administrators, and a trained interior designer (Mrs. McKean) and a professor of art (Dr. McKean), the McKeans presented art in all its fullness. Bringing contemporary art to central Florida beginning in the 1940s, while simultaneously supporting amateur and student work the couple emphasized that creativity and beauty were available to everyone. That art and beauty enhance everyday life and that art can bring people together are guiding themes in the McKeans’ approach to display and interpretation. Writing on the occasion of the Gallery’s third anniversary, the McKeans’ vision is clear. A letter sent in celebration underscores “... the Gallery’s and the Art Department’s policy of acquainting students as well as visitors and residents of Winter Park with all phases and expressions of American and foreign arts and crafts” and highlights that “…the Morse Art Gallery is pioneering in two directions— making art a part of community life and aiding international amity through cultural channels.”

The McKean Legacy at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum was planned in conjunction with the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, Winter Park, Florida. The exhibition was on view in the Myers Gallery at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum.                                                                            

Installation of "New Design", January 8–February 26, 1950, Photograph, Archives & Special Collections, Rollins College
Louis Comfort Tiffany, (American, 1848), Tiffany Turtleback Tile Lamp, c. 1900, Glass and tile, 23 in., Gift of Ms. Helene Lantz, Cornell Fine Arts Museum, 1991.15

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