6 Normandy Heights Road
Morristown, NJ 07960
Open: Sunday 12:00pm-5:00pm/Monday Closed/Tuesday-Saturday 11:00am-5:00pm
Fee: Adults $10.00/Children (3-18) & Seniors $7.00/Children under 3 & Active Military & Members Free
My review on TripAdvisor:
This was the second time I visited the Morris Museum and on every trip I learn something new. The first time I had visited the museum it was right after the movie ‘Hugo’ had opened which was a story that involved the automata (moveable animals and people mechanical objects) so my dad and I toured the permanent exhibit and then toured the rest of the museum.
The Guinness Galleries of Automata
When I arrived at the museum at 2:00pm recently, the museum was having a talk and a demonstration on the automata and musical boxes and that was very interesting. These mechanical wonders have been around since the 1300’s being perfected in the Arabic countries by clockmakers and craftsmen at the time.
The lecture was on how they were constructed and perfected over time to make them more reasonable to a growing market and how they were replaced when phonographs, radios, record players and tapes gradually progressed to change the market and make them obsolete. We got to hear an example of each of the objects and it was fascinating that during the Industrial Revolution how paper rolls changed the cost of these objects making them available to all classes. Today’s talking dolls and music boxes are descended from these innovative items.
The Automata at the Morris Museum
After the talk, I walked around the Museum to see parts of it that I had not visited on my last trip. For a small suburban museum, the museum is packed with all sorts of artifacts from Native American art to dinosaur relics and fossils found in the State of New Jersey.
In the original Frelinghuysen Mansion section of the museum, you can visit the Dodge Room which was dedicated to Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge, a great patron of the Arts. The room contains vintage furniture and paintings and shows what the room may have looked like when the Frelinghuysen’s lived here.
The Dodge Room at the Morris Museum
The museum also had really interesting exhibits from travelling shows including the ‘Bob Gruen: Rock Seen’, a famous photographer whose works extend from the late 60’s until today. There were some very interesting photos from Debbie Harry, The Rolling Stones and John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
Photographer Bob Gruen at the exhibition
One of my favorite photos from the Bob Gruen exhibition
There was another smaller exhibition on Steampunk Fashion at the museum as well that was very interesting.
There is a lot to see and do at the museum for all ages and if none of these appeal to you there is also the theater. The Morris Museum has a lot to offer everyone.
The Museum Mission:
The Morris Museum celebrates art, science, history and the performing arts by providing engaging exhibitions and programs, all of which are designed to excite the mind and promote cultural interests. The Museum strives to educate, entertain and inspire diverse audiences of all ages, abilities and backgrounds (Museum site)
History of the Museum:
In 1913, objects collected for display in a curio cabinet at the Morristown Neighborhood House formed the beginning of the Morris Museum Collection. Originally known as the Morristown Children’s Museum, education has been an intrinsic part of the Museum’s mission from the start. Mrs. Aldus Pierson, the Museum’s first head worker, introduced children to world cultures through the exploration of cultural artifacts. Generous donors began giving Mrs. Pierson interesting objects that they had acquired in their travels around the world. By 1927, the collection had expanded to seven rooms encompassing the first floor of the Neighborhood House’s annex. Displays included the world and children’s toys.
In 1938, the Museum moved to the Maple Avenue School building and shared space with the Morristown Board of Education and the Morris Junior Colleges until 1956. This enabled the Museum to enhance its programs for children and establish a link between its offerings and the curricula of area schools. This strong educational focus developed and continues to the present. The museum was incorporated in 1946, and its collections and services continued to expand. During this time, the Museum was at the forefront of presenting new trends in museum education through the modern use of dioramas, panels and niches. The outreach education program began in 1950 with in-school presentations to eight Morris County school including talks about American Indian culture.
The Museum’s first Director, Mr. Chester H. Newkirk made a significant impact on the development of the Museum’s programs, collections and services. During his 25 years of leadership (1956-1981), the collections of fine and decorative arts, toys and American Indian artifacts were greatly enhanced. In 1964, having outgrown its fourth location, the Museum purchased Twin Oaks, the former Frelinghuysen estate. Today, the Georgian-style mansion functions as the heart of the Morris Museum’s operations. In 1969, the institution was renamed the Morris Museum of Arts and Sciences, reflecting it growing emphasis on visual art and the expansion of its offerings for all ages. In response to the Museum’s increasing activities, successful capital campaigns enabled additions to the facility to be built. In 1970, gallery space was expanded and a 312 seat theater was added, which was later named the Bickford Theater. In 1973, the Morris Museum became the first museum in New Jersey to be accredited by the American Association of Museums. In 1985, its name was changed to the Morris Museum. In 1990, the Museum complex was further expanded to 75,524 sq. ft.
The Morris Museum’s Bickford Theater is a cultural hub for the very best of the performing arts in Morristown and beyond. Approaching its 50th anniversary, it will shine with even more dynamic, multifaceted and relevant programming, including a partnership with London-based National Theater Live; two film series and unique film festivals; traveling professional productions, a new lecture series, story-telling workshops, jazz, classical and community concerts children’s theater and more.
In 2003, the Museum was awarded the Murtough D. Guinness Collection, one of the world’s most important collections of mechanical musical instruments and automata (robotic figures of animals and people). This collection further enhances the Morris Museum’s role as a major cultural center and travel destination for the arts, sciences and humanities. This 750 object collection reflects innovative technology, exquisite craftsmanship, compelling sound and important cultural heritage. In recognition of what is the Museum’s most renowned collection, the Museum launched a major capital expansion project that resulted in a 5000 square foot gallery devoted to showcasing the history of mechanical music and automata, a grand Entrance Pavilion and a sky-lighted Court and expanded upper galleries.
Today, the Morris Museum is the only accredited museum in the United States with a theater and one of New Jersey’s most dynamic cultural institutions, serving more than 300,000 persons each year, two thirds of whom are children. Audiences are drawn from all twenty-one counties throughout the state and reflect the social-economic and ethnic spectrum that define northern and central New Jersey.
In 2008, the Museum was named Outstanding Arts Organization by the Arts Council of Morris area, in recognition of its exceptional accomplishments and commitment to improving the quality of life in the community through the arts. The Morris Museum has been recognized as a Major Arts institution by the New Jersey Council on the Arts/Department of State (2006-2017 eleven consecutive years) in recognition of the Museum’s solid history of artistic excellence, substantial programming and board public service. The New Jersey State Council on the Arts further distinguished the Morris Museum by bestowing the COuncil’s Citation of Excellence (2007-2013 seven consecutive years). The Morris Museum is a leading cultural institution in the state, upholding the highest standards of artistic excellence, educational innovation, fiscal responsibility, community engagement, audience impact and leadership in the arts community (Museum website).
(This information comes from the Morris Museum website on their history and I give them full credit for the information)