The Maitland Historical Society was founded in 1970 as a result of a Maitland Women’s Club initiative to preserve Maitland’s history.
Just minutes from Downtown Orlando, the five museums that comprise the Art & History Museums – Maitland feature countless opportunities for visitors to experience hands-on history and fine art exhibitions. The unique architecture and historical significance of the A&H’s Maitland Art Center were vital to its designation as a National Historic Landmark in 2014. Additionally, both the A&H’s Maitland Art Center and Waterhouse Residence Museum are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The A&H Mission Statement
We engage the public by educating, collecting, preserving, interpreting, exhibiting, and promoting art and history, reflective of the American experience inspired by Maitland’s heritage and the legacy of André Smith’s Research Studio.
Through our multidisciplinary collections, unique architectural environment, and inspirational programming, we stimulate thought, spark the imagination, enrich the spirit, and foster appreciation in art, historical research and preservation.
The A&H Difference
Another way the A&H embraces André Smith’s legacy is by providing a participatory experience for guests. Unlike traditional art and historical museums where visitors stand before static pieces, the A&H’s five museums offer unparalleled opportunities for enrichment and inspiration. From meeting professional artists working in their studios to hands-on 19th century woodworking, by engaging directly with the exhibitions and displays, visitors have a more meaningful and relevant experience. And our guests aren’t the only ones who benefit. Often the A&H’s Artists-in-Action and Artists-in-Residence have commented on how conversations with guests stopping by their studio positively influenced their work.
The A&H’s Rich Legacy
The Art & 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, the A&H’s Maitland Art Center (formerly known as the Research Studio) was founded in 1937 by visionary artist and architect J. André Smith (1880-1959) as twelve buildings set on approximately 2.84 acres of landscaped grounds. 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 the A&H’s 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 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.
A Landmark Moment
After a rigorous nomination and application process and due in large part of the unique Aztec- and Mayan-influenced architecture, one of the only remaining examples of “Mayan Revival Architecture” in the Southeast, the A&H’s Maitland Art Center became the first National Historic Landmark in the Greater Orlando Area in 2014.