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The Norton Museum of Art is an art museum located in West Palm Beach, Florida. Its collection includes over 7,000 works, with a concentration in European, American, and Chinese art as well as in contemporary art and photography. In 2003, it overtook the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, in Sarasota, as the largest museum in Florida.[1]

Norton Museum of Art
Norton Museum of Art front at dusk.jpg
Norton Museum of Art is located in Florida
Norton Museum of Art
Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida
LocationWest Palm Beach, Florida
Coordinates26°42′03″N 80°03′11″W / 26.700782°N 80.053000°W / 26.700782; -80.053000
TypeArt museum
DirectorElliot Bostwick Davis
ArchitectMarion Sims Wyeth and Lord Norman Foster


The Norton Museum of Art was founded in 1941 by Ralph Hubbard Norton (1875–1953) and his first wife, Elizabeth Calhoun Norton (1881–1947).

Norton, the former head of the Chicago-based Acme Steel Co., moved to West Palm Beach upon retirement and decided to share his sizable collection of paintings and sculpture. The late Art Deco/Neoclassical building designed by Marion Sims Wyeth opened its doors to the public on February 8, 1941. Its mission statement is "to preserve for the future the beautiful things of the past."


In 2001, the Norton Museum of Art underwent a significant expansion when the 45,000-square-foot (4,200 m2) Gail and Melvin Nessel Wing was built and increased the size of the museum to 122,500 square feet (11,380 m2). Constructed over two years, it was opened to the public in 2003. The expansion created more space to display art in both the new and existing areas, increasing the Norton's gallery space by 75 percent, allowing more opportunities for the museum's permanent collection. The wing includes 14 new galleries, an enclosed courtyard to accommodate a variety of educational and social events, a glass ceiling installation commissioned from Dale Chihuly, a cantilevered spiral staircase, and three-story atrium designed to evoke the museum's art. The J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Pavilion is a wedge-shaped meeting and reception space off to one side.[1] The new wing was designed by Chad Floyd of the Connecticut-based Centerbrook Architects & Planners.

Ruth and Carl Shapiro Great Hall featuring Pae White’s tapestry "Eikón".
The Pamela and Robert B. Goergen Garden walkway

In 2013, the museum unveiled a $60 million[2] master plan designed by the British architect Norman Foster that would nearly double its gallery space and add an education center, auditorium and restaurant.[3] The new West Wing added a 43ft-high Great Hall.[4] A parking lot next to the museum was converted into a 9,000 square feet (840 m2) sculpture garden. A new entrance and forecourt along the main thoroughfare, South Dixie Highway, re-established the axial layout of the Norton’s original 1941 Art Deco building.[4] As planned,[2] the museum broke ground in 2016.[4]

Front angle view of redesigned Norton Museum of Art in February 2019, designed by Foster & Partners.
Front angle view of redesigned Norton Museum of Art in February 2019, designed by Foster & Partners.

The Museum closed in July, 2018, for renovations. On February 9, 2019, it re-opened, adding 12,000 square feet (1,100 m2) of gallery space, new classrooms, a restaurant, and a 210-seat auditorium, in addition to the sculpture garden.[5]


The ground-level galleries showcase contemporary American art. The top floor is given over to European art through 1870.[1]

In early 2018, the Norton Museum of Art received a gift of more than 100 works from the collection of Howard and Judie Ganek, including artworks by Damien Hirst, Anselm Kiefer, Sigmar Polke, Ed Ruscha, Kara Walker, Donald Judd, Matthew Barney, Nan Goldin, Cindy Sherman, Lorna Simpson, and Pipilotti Rist, among others.[6]


During her tenure as director between 1990 and 2009, Christina Orr-Cahall transformed the museum into a full-fledged cultural institution, more than quadrupling its size. Hope Alswang has been director of the museum since 2010.[7] She is planning to retire in March 2019.[8]


  1. ^ a b c Gurewitsch, Matthew (April 17, 2003). "A New Wing For the Norton Museum". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved February 12, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Halperin, Julia (January 13, 2015). "Halfway to fundraising goal, Florida museum launches public appeal". The Art Newspaper. Retrieved February 12, 2019.
  3. ^ Robin Pogrebin (December 4, 2013), A New Plan for Norton Museum of Art From Norman Foster New York Times.
  4. ^ a b c Mchugh, Sharon (November 3, 2017). "Norman Foster plans subtropical landscape for Norton Museum'$100m expansion". The Art Newspaper. Retrieved February 12, 2019.
  5. ^ Valys, Phillip (February 3, 2019). "Ready for its Close-up". Sun-Sentinel. p. 1A and 27A.
  6. ^ Andy Battaglia (April 12, 2018), Norton Museum in West Palm Beach Receives Momentous Gift Before Re-Opening in 2019 ARTnews.
  7. ^ Carol Kino (March 14, 2012), Meet the New Boss, in the Shadow of the Old Boss New York Times.
  8. ^ Sjostrom, Jan (August 9, 2018). "How director Hope Alswang transformed the Norton Museum". Palm Beach Daily News. Retrieved February 12, 2019.

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