Best Museum in Palm Beach

Norton Museum of Art

The grande dame of South Florida museums just got grander: In March, the Norton continued its astonishing expansion with a new 45,000-square-foot, 14-gallery wing that brings the place to a total of 122,500 square feet, making it the largest art museum in the state. This follows the expansion and renovations of the early 1990s, which transformed a small, dignified facility into a cultural institution worthy of its holdings. And those holdings are vast -- so vast that the museum has never quite figured out how to showcase them properly, trotting out selections from time to time but never really finding a way to emphasize the depth and breadth of the permanent collection. Founders Ralph and Elizabeth Norton kicked off that collection in 1941 with an emphasis on European art after 1870, including works by Picasso, Matisse, Gauguin, Braque, Monet, Renoir, Brancusi, and Camille Pissarro. Other subsets of the permanent collection include photography (Julia Margaret Cameron, August Sander, Philippe Halsmann), contemporary art (Duane Hanson, Frank Stella), European art before 1870 (Courbet, Rubens), and American art (Georgia O'Keeffe, Jackson Pollock). The Chinese collection includes pieces ranging from the 12th Century B.C. to the early 18th Century. The new three-floor wing, which includes a dramatic atrium featuring a dazzling glass ceiling installation by Dale Chihuly, will give the permanent collection room to breathe as large segments of it are rotated, while the rest of the museum will continue to play host to such shows as the recent "Fire and Form: The Art of Contemporary Glass." Now if the Norton could just come up with enough parking to satisfy those crowds it's already attracting.

 
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