‘Fantastic’ new Daytona art museum opens to public
By EILEEN ZAFFIRO-KEAN - Associated Press
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - For centuries, painters sat on dewy tree logs in meadows and art studio stools across Florida creating what has become the collection of jewels on display for the first time at the new Cici and Hyatt Brown Museum of Art.
The museum opened this month to the public and received rave reviews, smiles and the awestruck looks of people trying to take in the 400 works that show long-gone buildings and serene scenes of the Florida landscape capturing sunrises, birds in flight and blossoming wildflowers.
“It’s overwhelming,” Daytona resident Mae Frances Davis said as she stood in the middle of one of the museum’s seven galleries. “This is definitely something I want to do more than this one day. I want to come back and learn.”
The opening was the day Cici and Hyatt Brown had dreamed of for years. When the collection they started in the late 1990s mushroomed to the thousands, they decided they wanted to share with the public the works that cover a 200-year span of Florida dating back to the 1700s.
Working with local government leaders, they were able to put their new building on a wooded piece of land along Nova Road that the city donated. The Browns in turn donated $14 million for construction of the 50-foot-tall Florida Cracker-style structure that will be owned and run by the Museum of Arts & Sciences, and last week they announced they’ll give $2 for every $1 donated to create a $15 million operations endowment.
They also donated to the museum bearing their names more than 2,600 paintings worth tens of millions of dollars, keeping just 150 pieces in the full collection of 2,750. It will take 10 years to rotate through the full 2,600 - the most significant of which are celebrated with ornate gold frames - and put them on display.
Before the grand opening, the Browns held an invitation-only brunch at the museum and received a standing ovation from their guests, which included everyone from Daytona Mayor Derrick Henry to the project’s architects with Orlando firm RLF.
“We never imagined this would be possible when we bought our first painting,” Cici Brown told the brunch crowd as she stood at the podium placed in front of a 30-foot-wide panoramic of a Florida landscape that moves from morning mist on the left to sunset on the right.
Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, who was among the brunch guests, said the museum is going to “enhance the cultural landscape” and impact both Daytona Beach and the state.
“By thoughtfully selecting these works, you have given new life to them,” Detzner said in his remarks to the group and Cici and Hyatt Brown, who is a former Florida Speaker of the House. “As Florida’s chief cultural officer, I could not be more proud.”
Sec of State Ken Detzner with Cici and Hyatt Brown at ribbon cutting
Volusia County Chair Jason Davis also thanked the Browns for all they’ve done.
“This is truly a rare collection of art like no other,” Davis said. “It’s an incredible gift to the citizens of Volusia County.”
In addition to the brunch group, hundreds of other invited guests were treated to sneak peeks of the artwork at three black tie dinners at the end of last week. Cici Brown, a longtime volunteer and board member with the Museum of Arts & Sciences, said the best part for her has been seeing how excited everyone’s been as they walk into the place she had a key role in creating.
“It’s been so much fun,” said Cici Brown, who’s had a hand in everything from selection of paintings that were purchased to design of the new museum to the flowers at the black tie galas.
Cici and Hyatt Brown
Read the rest of the article at the WashingtonTimes.com
More information can be found in these articles;
Daytona Beach art collection valued at $100 million, includes renowned painters
Museum website here - http://www.moas.org/ciciandhyattbrownmuseum.html
The Browns have done the State of Florida a great service by building a world class art collection and museum that focuses on an underrepresented subject, the State of Florida. For centuries artists have been coming to the sunshine state for vacation, adventure and health reasons. While visiting many were inspired by the light and landscapes to complete work here. Even most of the well known blue chip Northern artists including; Martin Johnson Heade, Winslow Homer, Louis Comfort Tiffany, N.C. Wyeth, Thomas Hart Benton and John Ennis just to name a few, completed works while visiting. However because the subject matter was Florida, paintings by these artists at auction would only fetch a fraction of the price a painting by the same artists with northern more popular subject matter would command. The Browns saw that as an opportunity and began buying up all the paintings with a Florida theme.
The Brown collection grew until it became a artistic record of not just the fading landscape of yesteryear but a chronicling of the people and places that make this such a unique place.
Never able to display the bulk of the collection at any one time the Browns began looking for an institution to partner with so the collection could be enjoyed by the public. Many of the top cultural institutions courted the Browns but in the end the decision was made to build a brand new museum that could be dedicated to the collection and build it in an under-served part of Florida.
Daytona and the State of Florida are enriched and forever grateful for the dedication and passion it took to build this collection. To preserve the paintings together in a dedicated museum will serve to teach, inform and inspire Floridians for many generations to come. GL