Galleries, museums and live theatre are giving this “old Florida” downtown a new vibe.
It’s a small town with a big arts scene. It’s “old Florida” with a new vibe. It’s DeLand, Florida. And here in downtown DeLand, that vibe is an artsy one. In the heart of the sunshine state, West Volusia County has a beauty of an arts community growing. DeLand has nearly a dozen venues amid its renovated downtown streets, including art galleries, nine museums and a historic theatre.
The Museum of Art – DeLand will put the city on the world stage in 2018 with an exhibit of the works of M. C. Escher (Netherlands, 1898-1972), an internationally renowned graphic artist. Most known for his mathematical prints, Escher created 448 lithographs, woodcuts and wood engravings and more than 2,000 drawings and sketches during his lifetime. The Escher exhibit will be on display beginning in January.
This vibrant fine art museum shows both permanent and rotating exhibits and encompasses 23,000 square feet in addition to the adjacent Evans C. and Betty Drees Johnson Children’s Art Center and a separate, nearly 3,000-square-foot modern gallery space, downtown.
There are also plenty more opportunities to get into the arts in DeLand. Stetson University’s Homer and Dolly Hand Art Center houses the university’s extensive collection of art by Modernist painter Oscar Bluemner (1867-1938). In its second gallery, the 5,000-square-foot center shows works from the university’s permanent art collection and hosts special shows.
The Henry DeLand House Museum depicts the history of the area with its period furnishings and an extensive collection of period photographs.
The African American Museum of the Arts, devoted primarily to African American and Caribbean American cultural art, is home to a permanent collection of more than 200 artifacts, sculptures and ceremonial masks from countries of Africa. The works of both established and emerging artists are displayed in a second gallery with rotating exhibits.
The Gateway Center for the Arts hosts rotating exhibits and is a diverse cultural arts center in nearby DeBary. Gateway offers live music, dance and theatrical performances as well as art exhibitions. The gem of region’s performing arts world is the historic Athens Theatre in downtown DeLand. Originally opened in 1922, the theatre now hosts a variety of productions in a beautifully restored setting. Theatrical performances, concerts and vintage movies are all a part of the Athens offerings.
In addition to fine and performing arts venues, there are historic sites, cultural collections and earth science learning centers which add even more to do and see in DeLand. And visitors see history unfold on the streets as they take in the DeLand Historic Mural Walk. More than a dozen murals depict the area’s history amid the downtown shops and restaurants.
DeLand is an integral part of the West Volusia region, a destination with stories to tell, history to share and fun to have. Nestled between Orlando and Daytona, West Volusia encompasses fourteen communities with an eclectic collection of accommodations and attractions. The authenticity travelers are looking for is here. From top-rated downtown DeLand to the scenic St. Johns River, this is real Florida. And what variety it offers! Start your journey at www.visitwestvolusia.com.