Welcome to the Appleton Museum of Art,
College of Central Florida.
Opened in 1987, the Appleton is located in Central Florida and is home to an extraordinary permanent collection of over 18,000 objects, plus an outdoor sculpture walk and garden, and a wide variety of temporary exhibitions and special events throughout the year.
The 81,610 square-foot museum is both classical and contemporary, with clean lines and stately Italian travertine marble. The original building surrounds an idyllic interior courtyard and fountain.
The Appleton is the focal point of the Appleton Cultural Center, a complex east of downtown Ocala on Silver Springs Blvd./State Road 40, which includes the Ocala Civic Theatre, and is one of six College of Central Florida campuses.
The Appleton Museum of Art brings art and people together to inspire, challenge and engage present and future generations through our wide range of collections, exhibitions, programs, and educational opportunities.
The Appleton Museum of Art is a leading cultural center that enriches the quality of life for the people of Central Florida and beyond.
How did the Horse Capital of the World become home to one of the finest art museums in the country?
It all started with Arthur I. Appleton, who was born in Illinois in 1915. Mr. Appleton’s father, Albert, was a Swedish industrialist who founded Appleton Electric Company in Chicago. Mr. Appleton’s mother, Lillian, was a concert pianist, singer and art collector.
After attending Dartmouth College and graduating with a Master in Business Administration from the Amos Tuck School of Business Administration and Finance, Mr. Appleton went to work at the Appleton Electric Company. He was an innovator in the electronics field and acquired more than 160 patents over the course of his career. He also fostered a love of art and antiquities that his mother instilled in him as a child.
In 1947, Mr. Appleton married Martha O’Driscoll, a starlet in the Golden Age of Hollywood. Martha appeared in musicals, westerns, romantic comedies, and horror films from some of the major studios of the day, including MGM, Universal, Paramount, and RKO. She gave up her show biz life to marry Mr. Appleton and raise a family in Illinois.
From there, the Appletons put down roots in the Ocala area in the mid-1970s, when they established Bridlewood Farm, a 960-acre thoroughbred breeding and training facility. Bridlewood bred over 90 stakes winners and trained the 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Smarty Jones.
The Appletons wanted to share their vast art collection with the world and thought Ocala would be the perfect setting for a museum. The City of Ocala donated 44 acres of land for the Appleton Museum of Art in 1984. Mr. Appleton worked with Tampa architect Dwight Holmes to realize his vision, and the museum opened its doors to the public in 1987.
Since then, it has won the American Institute of Architects Florida Award for Excellence, expanded with the addition of the 22,000 square-foot Edith-Marie Appleton Wing (named for Mr. Appleton’s sister) and been accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.
Today, the museum is home to a world-class permanent collection, as well as temporary, traveling exhibitions and educational programs for art lovers of all ages.
The building is an inspiring home to the outstanding permanent collection. With clean lines and stately Italian travertine marble, the museum’s architecture is both contemporary and classical. The original building surrounds an idyllic interior courtyard and fountain.
The 81,610-square-foot museum features:
- 30,000 square feet of gallery space devoted to the Appleton’s permanent collections
- The Edith Marie Appleton Wing, a 4,000 square-foot, two-story exhibition gallery
- Courtside Café and Courtyard
- A state-of-the-art auditorium
- The Artspace
- Three art studio/classroom spaces
- An onsite art storage facility
- 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 includes the Ocala Civic Theatre.
In 2013, the Appleton Museum of Art, College of Central Florida, was awarded accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums. Only about 10% of museums in the United States have been accredited; we are proud to share our commitment to excellence with our patrons and guests.
Accreditation is a rigorous process that examines all aspects of a museum’s operations to ensure they meet the AAM’s Characteristics of Excellence.
“Accreditation of the Appleton Museum is testament to the quality of exhibitions and programming, and a commitment to high standards,” said Dr. James Henningsen, CF president. “We have known that the museum is a treasure in our community. Now we have the seal of approval.”