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During our Palm Beach stay, we visited two museums that added greatly to our visit — and which, in case of bad weather, would provide valuable diversions.
Henry Flagler, a co-founder of Standard Oil, was also a visionary who foresaw the attraction of Florida as a warm-weather escape from winter within the United States. At the turn of the 20th century, he charged his architects with creating a mansion to rival the most opulent in Europe, as well as those in Newport, Rhode Island, as a wedding gift to his new (and third) wife. Flagler took up winter residence in 1902. Highlights of the 75-room estate, now the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum, include many of the original furnishings, a superb art collection and, in an adjacent pavilion, Flagler’s personal railcar, in which he would travel down from New York. The splendor of the place is breathtaking, especially the 5,000-square-foot Grand Hall, which features two portraits of Flagler, one at each end.
One Whitehall Way,
Palm Beach. Tel. (561) 655-2833
Across the Intracoastal Waterway in West Palm Beach is the Norton Museum of Art, created in 1941 by steel industrialist Ralph Hubbard Norton and his wife, Elizabeth Calhoun Norton. It is currently undergoing a massive renovation that will include an impressive addition designed by Norman Foster. Despite the restricted exhibition space, what we saw was wonderful; it represented a careful distillation of the museum’s extensive holdings, from 19th- and 20th-century European painting to photography to Chinese art. I was especially delighted with a painting by American artist Marsden Hartley, whose work I admire. It was as rugged as the state of Maine, from which he hailed.
Norton Museum of Art
1451 S. Olive Avenue, West Palm Beach. Tel. (561) 832-5196