See Miami 2019: Norton Museum of Art by Sophia Gandarillas

Student Biography

My name is Sophia Gandarillas and I attend Florida International University. I’m a pre-med student currently double majoring in Biological Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies with minors in Chemistry and Spanish. I hope to one day attend medical school to become a doctor, however I do not yet know what branch of medicine I want to commit to. I have always loved art and I believe this passion was instilled in me by my abuelo, who was an artist.


The Norton Museum of Art is located at 1450 S Dixie Hwy, West Palm Beach, FL 33401. The original museum, built in 1941, was at this same location in West Palm Beach. It was recently remodeled and expanded into a 59,000 sq. ft building, with a 35% increase in gallery space. It also added the William Randolph Heart Education Center a space where there’s a student art gallery and classrooms for adults, families, and schools. There’s also a Stiller Family Foundation Auditorium for lectures, films, performances, and other activities. They have the Pamela and Robert B. Goergen Garden which houses sculptures, a lawn, and seating for reflection. There’s also the Ruth and Carl Shapiro Great Hall which serves as a community space. Lastly, on the southern side of the Museum property on Cranesnest Way, there are newly restored historic houses for the artist-in-residence program. All of these wonderful additions show how committed the Museum is towards helping and educating the community. A vast majority of the additional footage that was added to the original museum was added to serve the community whether it be through education, larger exhibition space, ability to present more programs or space for the community to utilize. They have created a beautiful space for the “culturally underserved community” to come and enjoy the new space and all that it has to offer in terms of art and culture. Its mission is to serve and educate the community through its diverse and numerous opportunities and programs, as well as through its large and multifarious collection.


Ralph Hubbard Norton and Elizabeth Calhoun Norton, his wife, founded The Norton Museum of Art in 1941. The Norton’s began collecting art to decorate their home but eventually his interests became so large that he amassed a formidable collection of paintings and sculptures. Mr. Norton was semi-retired in 1935 and therefore began vacationing and spending increasing time in the Palm Beaches. They soon decided to found a museum in West Palm Beach along with a school of art, which was the first institution of its type in South Florida. Construction began in 1940 under the commission of Marion Sims Wyeth who designed the art-deco inspired Museum. On February 8.1941, the Norton Museum of Art was opened to the public. It housed Mr. Norton’s collection, which he continually added to until 1953. The works he and his wife acquired, are the core part of the Museum’s core collection today. Mr. Norton created and left an endowment to purchase new works of art which has allowed for the many notable additions that have been made to the collection. Today, the permanent collection houses over 7,600 works in the five curatorial departments: Chinese, European, Contemporary, Photography, and American.

The Norton launched the annual Recognition of Art by Women (RAW) in 2011. This is a series of solo exhibitions which honors living female painters and sculptors. In 2012, The Rudin Prize for Emerging Photographers was instituted by the Norton. It biennially awards cutting edge photographers from all over the world who have not yet received solo exhibitions. Then, in 2013, the Norton’s Trustees saw the need for more education and exhibition space as the population in Florida was increasing rapidly. The Board of Trustees then commissioned the firm Foster + Partners to design the new and larger building. The newly remodeled and expanded museum opened on February 9, 2019. This included the remodeling of the six 1920’s era cottages for the artist in residence program and the home of the Museum Director.


“The Mission of the Norton Museum of Art, when founded in 1941, was ‘to preserve for the future the beautiful things of the past’ while providing ‘education and enjoyment’ for the public.”

“Today, continuing its original mission, the Norton Museum of Art strives to preserve, develop, exhibit and interpret its outstanding permanent collection and to educate the public through special exhibitions, publications and programs. The Norton seeks to strengthen awareness of the arts in our region through encouraging participation, reaching out to improve the quality of life in all communities through appreciation of visual arts and cultural patrimonies. The Norton Museum of Art will continue to be the pre-eminent art museum in Florida and one of the finest museums in the United States.”

The Norton Museum of Art has continually striven to achieve its mission since its opening by providing an accessible artistic and cultural hub. It continually amazes me how much they do not only for art lovers but how much they do for their community and for the education of children and adults alike. The museum provides a wonderful space that allows for the appreciation of art over a wide range of history for a comprehensive view on how art has changed over the centuries. They also provide a large array of programs, exhibitions, events, and publications for the public to become more involved, educated, and engaged in the arts and culture.


The Norton Museum of Art is very accessible to all visitors. They have ample accessible parking adjacent to the museum’s entrance and in the free lot across South Dixie Highway. They also allow visitors to be dropped off at the northwest corner of the museum. Not only is the parking accessible but the inside of the museum is also widely accessible by people with a wide range of disabilities. They have fully accessible restrooms and a free but limited supply of manual wheelchairs for borrow. They also allow visitors to bring their own wheelchairs, walkers, and scooters. Lastly, they offer American Sign Language interpreters by request but only if they’re given notice two weeks in advance. Therefore, the only downsides to their accessibility are they do not allow Segways, only have a limited supply of manual wheelchairs, and that those who need an American Sign Language interpreter need to do so ahead of their visit and cannot spontaneously visit and hope to be assisted.

As for the monetary accessibility, the Museum has free admission on Fridays and Saturdays. It is also free for members, children of ages 12 and under, Florida teachers (with a valid ID), and Active US military members with their immediate family (with a valid ID). Students get entrance for $5 with a valid ID, seniors of ages 60 and over have entrance for $15, and general admission is $18. These prices are very good for the vast and diverse number of pieces they have in their collection as well as the upscale polished ambiance of the museum itself.

The Museum itself extends the opportunity for visitors to become members. They offer different types or levels of membership as well as a plethora of exclusive benefits that last for a full year. The ten types of memberships as well as their costs are as follows: Student ($25), Individual ($80), Supporter ($145), Contributor ($300), Patron ($700), Sustaining Patron ($1,250), Donor Circle ($2,500), Benefactor Circle ($5,000), Chairman’s Circle ($25,000), and Director’s Circle ($10,000). The exclusive benefits that are offered to all members includes unlimited free entrance for the member and their children (ages 18 and under), access to member exclusive events and exhibition previews,  a 10% discount in both the Museum Restaurant and Coffee Bar and Museum Store, discounted for special events, discounted guest museum admissions ($12 for up to two guests per visit), opportunity to access subscription programs, delivery of the quarterly member newsletter and e-newsletters, eligibility to become a volunteer or docent, and those that are a part of the supporter level or above receive free admission to the over 350 museums that are a part of the Reciprocal Organization of Associated Museums (ROAM). There are further benefits extended to each type of membership individually. They offer a large array of options that allow a large array of people to contribute in their own way. Overall, the benefits outweigh any cost that they could ask, and all contributions are used to further the impact that the museum has on its community, its visitors, and the public.

“Visitor Guide” of the Norton Museum of Art Pamphlet


The collection is split into five different segments: American, Chinese, Contemporary, European, and Photography.

The American Art collection has about 1,000 works dating from as early as the 18th century up until 1960. Some notable works include Childe Hassam’s “Gloucester Harbor”, George Wesley Bellows’ “Winter Afternoon”, Georgia O’Keeffe’s “Ranchos Church No. 1” and “Red Flower”, Stuart Davis’ “New York Mural”, Charles Demuth’s “After All…”, Robert Motherwell’s “Personage”, Jackson Pollock’s “Night Mist”, Man Ray’s “Chess Set”, Alexander Calder’s “Grasshopper”, and many more.

The Chinese Art collection has pieces spanning 5,000 years and has more than 700 objects. There are pieces dating back to Qing dynasty as well as the Republic period. There is also a work commissioned by the Qianlong Emperor, a painting by Tang Yin a Ming Dynasty master, 17th century lacquered cabinets from the Qing dynasty emperor Kangxi, and a painting from Li An-Zhong a Southern Song dynasty quail painter. Some notable pieces are the “Tripod Wine Vessel (Jia) with Cover” and “Wine Ewer (Gong) from the Anyang Period of the Shang Dynasty, “Pendent (Pei) in the Form of a Rabbit” from the Western Zhou Dynasty, “Pendant (Pei) in the Form of a Dragon” from the Eastern Zhou Dynasty, “Cup and Saucer” from the Five Dynasties Period–early Northern Song Dynasty, “Hibiscus-Form Brush Washer” from the Jin Dynasty-Yuan Dynasty, “Five Quail” from the Southern Song-early Yuan Dynasty, “’Shonzui’-Style Gourd-Shaped Sake Flask (Tokkuri) from the Ming Dynasty, Tianqi-Chongzhen Reign, “One of a Pair of Lacquered Cabinets” from the Kangxi Reign of the Qing Dynasty, “The Nine Bends River” by Tang Yin from the Ming Dynasty, “Alms Bowl with Seven Buddhas” from the Qianlong Reign of the Qing Dynasty, and many others.

The Contemporary Art collection was established in 2009 but the museum has been acquiring works since the 1990’s. Some notable works include Louise Bourgeois’ “Unconscious Landscape”, Dan Flavin’s “Untitled (to Janie Lee) two”, Teresita Fernández’s “Nocturnal (Rise and Fall)”, Nick Cave’s “Soundsuit”, Jenny Saville’s “Mnemosyne I”, Mickalene Tomas’ “Naomi Looking Forward #2”, Njideka Akunyili’s “Super Blue Omo”, and many more.

The European Art collection has works from 1300 to 1945 and it has works from the major artistic movements from the Renaissance to Impressionism and Modernism. Some of the Renaissance and Baroque artists whose works they have include Lucas Cranach the Elder, Ludovico Carracci, and Peter Paul Rubens. Some of the 18th century artists whose works they have are Horace Vernet, Jean-Baptiste Greuze, Guillaume Coustou the Younger, and Bartolommeo Cavaceppi. The early Modern period (which includes the Realist, Impressionist, and Post-Impressionist movements) are represented by artists such as Gustave Courbet, Claude Monet, Paul Gaugin, Constantin Brancusi, Georges Braque, Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Chaim Soutine, and many more. Some notable works include Lucas Cranach the Elder’s “The Betrayal and Capture of Christ”, Sir Peter Paul Rubens’ “Study for Head of Saint John the Evangelist”, Claude Monet’s “Gardens of the Villa Moreno, Bordighera”, Gaetano Gandolfi’s “Jacob Stealing Esau’s Blessing”, Paul Gaugin’s “Christ in the Garden of Olives”, Paul Cézanne’s “Portrait of Alfred Hauge”, Pablo Picasso’s “Head of a Woman”, Chaim Soutine’s “Landscape at Céret”, Constantine Brancusi’s “Mademoiselle Pogany II”, Joan Miró’s “Woman, Bird and Star”, and many others.

The Photography collection was begun in 1998. Some notable works include Edward Weston’s “Shell and Rock Arrangement”, Henri Cartier-Bresson’s “Brussels”, Bruce Davidson’s “Wales”, Graciela Iturbide’s “Nuestra Señora de las Iguanas, Juchitán, México”, Candida Höfer’s “Spiegelkantine III”, Sarah Charlesworth’s “Nike”, Simon Norfolk’s “North Gate of Baghdad”, Thomas Demand’s “Landing”, and many more.


On the day of my visit, September 22, 2019, there were three temporary exhibitions on view. The first, “See and Be Seen: Picturing Notoriety”, contained about 50 pieces spanning from the 17th to the 21st century. It captures glimpses into the lives of famous personalities and their desire to be seen as such. Works by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, George Hurrell, Andy Warhol, Nan Goldin, Annie Leibovitz, and John Baldessari are on view. The second, “Film Posters from the Dwight M. Cleveland Collection”, is composed of more than 200 posters. They are posters for musicals, comedies, dramas, sci-fi thrillers, Westers, and other categories from the 20th century to the late 1980’s. The third, “Posters by Toulouse-Lautrec”, exhibits Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s post-Impressionist style posters which promoted Paris’ nightlife and a new wave of graphic arts. Toulouse- Lautrec helped launch modernism in the 20th century and this exhibition showcases and uncovers this.

“Exhibitions and Programs Summer 2019” Pamphlet

Special Programs

In the month of September, there were many exciting events happening in the Museum.  Three lectures and presentations such as “Defining Marilyn”, “The Moon in Chinese Art”, and How Posters Work” were being held. Other events include “Art After Dark” which occur every Friday from 5-10PM at the museum. The “Art After Dark” event has a wide array of programs and activities that changes every week therefore the four events in September were all unique. The Museum also has concerts, during the month of September the Museum hosted a performance by Drew Tucker. The Museum also shows Outdoor Film Series and Classic Movie Matinees. In September, the 1957 classic “Jailhouse Rock” was shown. In Art Education, Workshops are given and in September there was a workshop on “Photomontage Film Posters” (a one-day workshop) and “Drawing in Metalpoint” (a four-session workshop). The also host events such as “A Closer Look”, which in September, took in in-depth look into Eileen Cowin’s “Mirror of Venus”. The Museum also hosts Family Studio which hosted “Perpetual Paint” where families looks at how paint was used in various forms and they later went into the studio to try out some of the techniques they observed. There are also Family Workshops, Mini Book + Art, and Teen Fridays.

“Exhibitions and Programs Summer 2019” Pamphlet

Visitor Interview

Carol, a retiree from Broward County, decided to visit the Norton on September 22, 2019 as her new pledge to do something fun and exciting ever weekend. She decided to come to the museum for the first time after it had come up in conversation with a few friends and had piqued her interest. Her favorite piece on display was “The Fishermen” by Claude-Joseph Vernet (pictured above). She enjoyed the piece specifically because of its use of a warm palette that was not only pleasing to look at but also because of the sense of tranquility that drew her in. Mrs. Johnson really enjoyed the feel of the whole museum especially the fact that some of the rooms were painted in a certain color that helped set the mood for the artworks and also helped emphasize the beauty of the artworks. Her only complaint was that she did not see many opportunities for younger children to get involved. She would love to bring her grandchildren but did not see any advertising for fun activities for the kids. Another thing that she was disappointed about was that the entire second floor was closed for remodeling or for the set-up of a new exhibition. However, she also saw this as another opportunity to come back again and explore the completed exhibition. She explained that she would definitely come back again, and next time bring some of her friends with her. She thoroughly enjoyed the selection of artwork that the Norton holds and displays because she is a fan of traditional artwork as opposed to the contemporary styles.

Employee Interview

Rachel Richardson, the Digital Communications Officer at the Norton Museum of Art, has been employed at the museum for a year and a half. She was inspired to join the staff of the Museum because of its large renovation and expansion; she saw the opportunity to join a growing team and be a part of a world-renowned Museum. The Museum is one that she believes actively fulfills its mission as an active member of the community that is very accessible to all people in the community. Rachel emphasized the two days of free admission, Fridays and Saturdays, which aid in the accessibility of the museum and is a very important factor of the Museum. When asked about her favorite exhibition or artwork, she revealed that the current temporary exhibition of the works of Georgia O’Keeffe are her favorite. However, they do offer a large array of different types of art and it was a tough decision to make.


The Norton Museum of Art, especially with its new expansion and remodel, is a fine institute that houses and displays a wide array of artworks. Their display of their entire collection is beautiful. The permanent collection is just as impressionable and is beautiful as their temporary exhibitions. The amount of effort they put not only in their museum but also in the programs, lectures, and events that they set up are astounding. Not only do they put in a lot of effort, they also make sure that all of these things are accessible to all people in the community. This shows how the Norton Museum of Art has continually striven to achieve its mission since its opening by providing an accessible artistic and cultural hub for the people of South Florida as well as visitors and tourists. It has one of the largest and most diverse collections of art in Florida. It continually amazes me how much they do not only for art lovers but how much they do for their community and for the education of children and adults alike. The museum provides a wonderful space that allows for the appreciation of art over a wide range of history for a comprehensive view on how art has changed over the centuries. They also provide a large array of programs, exhibitions, events, and publications for the public to become more involved, educated, and engaged in the arts and culture.

However, there are a few downsides to the museum. The first issue I see with this great institution is the lack of better advertising on all of their programs and activities. If someone is not in the area or connected to their emails, it’s hard for them to find out all that the museum has to offer its visitors. The next issue was due to the sheer immensity of the museum. The size is great for the showing of all the great art. However, the size can make it quite confusing to navigate at times. There is full accessibility though in the way that there are elevators and all the amenities that anyone might need. The last issue is the fact that it takes a two-week advance in order for someone who is in need of an American Sign Language interpreter. It takes away from the spontaneity of a visit and doesn’t allow for the full experience for someone who visits without enough time to call for the accommodations. The Norton Museum of Art is an otherwise perfect institution that I advise everyone to go visit its incredible collection and enjoy all that the Museum has to offer.

All images were taken by Sophia Gandarillas, writer of this article, of artworks within the Norton Museum of Art. All information was either opinion based or based on well sourced information as sited in the links above. Any images taken from said sources are also linked above.

Leave a Reply