The Art & History Museums Maitland’s unique architecture, beautiful gardens, quality exhibits and programming, and two sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places make it a must visit cultural destination. The Art and History Museums Maitland (A&H) formed in May 2010 with the merger between the Maitland Art Center and the Maitland Historical Society. With a combined 115 years of service, these facilities are integral to Central Florida’s cultural identity.
The largest of the museums is the Maitland Art Center, formerly known as the Research Studio, founded in 1937 by visionary artist and architect J. André Smith (1880-1959.) The Research Studio benefitted from the generous financial support of philanthropist Mary Curtis Bok. The Research Studio was a lively colony that hosted artists of national prominence, including Milton Avery, Ralston Crawford, Doris Lee and many others. In 1969, the City of Maitland acquired the Research Studio whose buildings are an example of “Mayan Revival” architecture, one of the only remaining examples of fantasy architecture in the Southeastern U.S. The Research Studio, now known as Maitland Art Center, is home to a number of significant collections, including the artworks of its founder J. André Smith, Bok Fellows including Milton Avery, and contemporary Central Florida artists.
The Maitland Historical Society was founded in 1970 as a result of a Maitland’s Women’s Club initiative to preserve Maitland’s history. Early members of the Society began collecting priceless stories and artifacts from local pioneer families and in 1977, the Maitland Historical Museum opened its doors. As the Society grew, it opened three additional museums to better serve its goal of bringing Florida history to life. The Society opened the Telephone Museum, a museum detailing telephone technology through the years, in 1982. In 1992 the Society’s greatest treasure opened to the public. The Waterhouse Residence Museum is an impressive example of Florida living in the Victorian period. In 1994, the Society added the Carpentry Shop Museum as a supporting piece to the home and a hands-on antique tool museum.
The Art and History Museums Maitland, formed by the 2010 merger, strives to promote, engage, and educate all visitors about visual art and history through exhibitions, tours, classes, hands-on programming, special events, outreach programs, research services, and volunteer opportunities.