Best Museum - 2007
The Flagler Museum
Readers' Choice: Fort Lauderdlae Museum of Discovery and Science
Even in the café at the Flagler Museum, you'll learn something, like how the teabag came to be. (New York vendor Thomas Sullivan put samples of tea in silk bags and sent them to his customers in 1908.) And from Thanksgiving to the end of March, you can feast on a traditional Gilded Age luncheon and enjoy afternoon tea. You'll actually feel like a robber baron because this museum was first a mansion. Oil and railroad tycoon Henry Flagler built "Whitehall" in 1902 with his third wife, Mary Lily Kenan. Today, we peasants can explore the 55,000-square-foot classic revival-style mansion, which has 55 restored rooms featuring period furnishings, marble floors, walls and columns, ceiling murals, and gilding. Louis Comfort Tiffany is one of many artists featured at Whitehall, a National Historic Landmark, although the crowd-pleasing part of the tour is the camouflaged door leading to a secret passageway to Flagler's bedroom that he used to duck out on guests who bored him. The museum is open year-round on Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. and Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.