The Charles Hosmer Morse Foundation Board of Trustees has issued a statement sharing that the former director of the museum, Dr. Laurence J. Ruggiero, passed away at the age of 74 on Thursday, March 23.

Ruggiero was appointed as associate director of the museum in 1992 before becoming the director shortly after in 1995, the same year the museum opened its Park Avenue location.

Under his direction, the museum expanded its Tiffany’s 1893 chapel in 1999, along with the 2006 seminal exhibition Louis Comfort Tiffany’s Laurelton Hall: An Artist’s Country Estate done in collaboration with The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, and the 12,000 SF Museum expansion in 2011. In 2017, the Morse celebrated its 75th anniversary.

Harold Ward, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Morse Foundation, recalled Larry’s work with Hugh McKean, the Morse Museum’s Director when Larry first became associated with the Museum in a prepared statement.

“He brought the unique combination of graduate degrees in both art and business, as well as substantial experience as a museum director, culminating with his service as Director of the Ringling Museum in Sarasota which he left to come to Winter Park. When Larry became Director of the Morse at Hugh McKean’s death, he combined that background with his close work with Hugh to bring the Morse to its present status as both a wonderful community asset, and recognition as a worldwide collection of American art. I am extremely grateful for the privilege of my association with Larry during his many years of service with the Morse.”


As part of the succession plan initiated in 2021 by the Museum’s Board of Trustees, upon Ruggerio’s retirement on February 28 of this year, Jennifer Perry Thalheimer was appointed on March 1 as Museum Director and Chief Curator of the Morse. Since 1999, Thalheimer has been preserving the Museum’s collection while researching Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848–1933) and, more broadly, American decorative art. She is internationally recognized as a specialist on Tiffany’s life and art, has lectured extensively, contributed articles to national publications, and has curated over twenty-seven exhibitions at the Museum. You can click HERE to see a previous interview with her at a recent exhibition opening.

Ruggiero is survived by his wife, Virginia, and son John. A service honoring Ruggiero will be held at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, March 29, at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church in Winter Park.

Brendan O'Connor

Editor in Chief of

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