The Colonial Florida Cultural Heritage Center includes a remarkable collection of Spanish Colonial art featuring works from throughout South and Central America and the islands, particularly the art centers of Cuzco and greater Peru and of Mexico City, as well as art brought from Europe during the Colonial Period. Recently, the Spanish Colonial art collection almost doubled with the acquisition of a significant portion of the William Morgenstern Estate collection. Dating from the late 16th to the early 19th centuries, paintings and sculpture express the unique heritage of Latin America with their Baroque aesthetic. The art installed at La Merced Chapel is complemented by the Chapel’s hand-carved architecture and 23.5 karat gold-leaf decoration, applied by artisans on site.
Additional art is both stored and displayed at La Casa. The wide-ranging collections at La Casa include:
- Research library of original books related to the social and political history of Florida, the islands and the Americas
- Specialized library collections such as early Black America
- Documents and memorabilia related to Cuba from its beginnings through the early 20th century
- Original documents such as a 1593 letter from King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella
- 50,000+ digitalized documents relating to the early Americas, particularly Cuba
- Memorabilia related to the Spanish American War and the relationships between the United States and the Philippines
- Original maps including the newly-discovered New World
- Religious vestments made or used in the Americas
The collections are the basis of periodic exhibitions, docent tours, and private viewings. The collections in La Merced will be open to the public at designated times beginning in fall 2019, and may be viewed by the public and by private groups during concerts and other events at the Chapel.