Water, wildlife and magnificent palm trees…I spent an afternoon admiring the most extensive collection of Florida art in the world.
When the collection they started in the late 1990s mushroomed to the thousands, Cici and Hyatt Brown decided they wanted to share with the public 2,600 oil-and-watercolor paintings that cover a 200-year span of Florida dating back to the 1700s.
Hyatt is Chairman of the Board of Brown & Brown Insurance Agency and former speaker of the Florida House. His wife, Cici, is an avid volunteer and supporter of the arts. That support may be even more impressive than the canvases hanging inside their museum.
Working with local government leaders, the couple was able to put the new building on a wooded piece of land in Daytona Beach that the city donated. The Browns, in turn, donated $14 million for construction of a Florida Cracker-style structure which is owned and run by the Museum of Arts & Sciences. (Ever generous, the couple contributed another $10 million toward an endowment to cover operating expenses.)
I’m one of 23,000 visitors who enjoyed the collection during its first year. But the museum doesn’t only attract local residents. Art enthusiasts and scholars mingle with tourists who want to add a bit of culture to their beach travels. With Bike Week roaring to a start tomorrow, it’s nice to know that visitors can participate in cultural activities, along with traditional tourism offerings, here.
Who says you can’t mix some Wyeth with your waves?
Cici and Hyatt Brown Museum of Art, 352 South Nova Road, Daytona Beach, FL is open Monday-Saturday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM and Sunday: 11:00 AM-5:00 PM