The Appleton Museum of Art, founded in 1982, was a gift from Arthur I. Appleton to the Ocala community. The City of Ocala donated the 44-acre site for the home of the museum, construction began in 1984 and the museum opened to the public in 1987. Originally built to display and preserve Mr. Appleton’s extensive art collection, the Appleton Museum today is one of the South’s premier art museums and the leading cultural institution in Marion County.
Since opening day, the museum’s mission has been to consistently exhibit works of fine art and artifacts for the public and provide educational programming for visitors. Since 2004, governance of the museum has been through the College of Central Florida and the CF Foundation.
The Appleton Museum of Art is the focal point of the Appleton Cultural Center, a complex east of downtown Ocala on Silver Springs Blvd./State Road 40 which also includes the Ocala Civic Theatre and the Pioneer Garden Club of Ocala, Inc. The museum is a contemporary two-story travertine marble structure commanding a small rise fronted by a reflecting pool and fountain, and surrounded by 11.3 wooded and landscaped acres. The building features five permanent galleries, a 250-seat auditorium and café arranged in a quadrangle surrounding a landscaped open air courtyard.
The 20,000-square-foot Edith-Marie Appleton Wing opened in 1996 and houses 4,000 square feet of exhibition space, three class rooms, an interactive video classroom, an art library containing more than 2,000 art reference books and videos, an art workshop, offices and storage space. A 2,662-square-foot collections storage facility was added in 2009, expanding the museum’s current overall size to a total of 81,610 square feet.
The museum’s permanent collections of approximately 16,000 objects include European, American, Asian, African, Contemporary and pre-Columbian art and artifacts, and a series of temporary traveling exhibitions are presented throughout the year. The museum is also building a collection of works of Florida artists which relates directly to the history and cultural heritage of our Central Florida community.