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Member Spotlight: Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens

Posted By Charlotte Gill, Monday, April 29, 2019

It’s a two-acre tropical sanctuary in the heart of West Palm Beach – the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens is a historic home featuring larger-than-life monumental sculptures, works of art, and collection of rare palms and cycads.


The lush green jungle-like setting was perfect for Nonprofit First’s Spring Mix, Mingle, and Member Networking on April 11 in the natural, unmanicured preserve just off Flagler Drive and Intercoastal Waterway.


For our April member spotlight, let us take you on a tour of Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens (our new member).



The first thing you need to know about Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens is the basics about its namesake.


Ann Norton was a sculptress who arrived in the Palm Beach area in 1942, at age 37, to teach sculpturing at the Norton Gallery and School of Art founded by Ralph Norton, who she later married in 1948. She went on to become a nationally recognized artist who created nine large-scale sculptures as tall as 28 feet at her home at 253 Barcelona Road in the historic El Cid neighborhood, as well as about 100 smaller sculptures in wood, stone and bronze.


Her works in bronze, stone and wood are displayed throughout the gardens. In particular, her northern cedar wooden structures were inspired by material often used by the Indians of the Northwest for their totem poles. She noted in an article in the New York Times in 1978: “I use everything – the cracks in the wood, the knots, and the gnarls. I like my work to flow together with nature.”


Ann Norton’s artistic vision was shaped by Cubism, Art Deco style, and the architecture and sculptures of Romanesque and Gothic churches that she studied on her trips to Europe and elsewhere. Her Seven Beings sculptures, featuring Mayan influences in the faces and some Navajo Indian, stand attentive and watchful, each facing a different direction.


The other thing you need to know about Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens is its impact on the community.


A conservationist, Ann Norton spent her life not only building a home for her art, but also a sanctuary for living beings. Each year, about 20,000 people visit Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens – which she established as a non-profit foundation in 1977 – including 5,000 low-income students for educational programming. The organization is devoted to exhibiting works of other artists, while preserving Ann Norton’s studio and displaying her monumental sculptures in a preserve where a notable collection of rare palms is continually being developed.

As a recognition for her contributions to the arts and the community, Ann Norton was inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame this year. And, around the same time, Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens were acceptance into the Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.


Ann Norton died in 1982, but her legacy lives on in her historic home, artist studio and rare palm gardens which were left for the enjoyment and education of the community. 


We hope you visit – enjoy!


Learn more about Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens here.


If your nonprofit has a great story to tell, contact Charlotte Gill at Nonprofits First: 561-910-3891 or

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