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Exploring Orlando's Loch Haven Park: A Center of Arts and Culture

By Susanne Pacher

On this overcast day we decided to explore other areas of Orlando in more detail. About 10 minutes north of downtown Orlando is Loch Haven Park, an area that holds a number of major attractions, including theOrlando Museum of Art, the Mennello Museum of American Art as well as the Orlando Repertory Theatre, the Orlando-UCF Shakespeare Festival, the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Orlando Science Center.

We started our exploration off with a trip to the Leu Botanical Gardens. The centerpiece of the gardens is the Leu House Museum, a restored farmhouse dating back to 1888. It is located on Lake Rowena, one of the hundreds of lakes in Orlando, and surrounded by a 50 acre garden of roses, palms and camellias. The complex also features an orchid house with one of the best collections of orchids in the United States. The Leu Botanical Gardens also offer a new tropical stream garden, a kitchen garden complete with herbs and vegetables and a butterfly garden.

Just 10 minutes away is Loch Haven Park, one of Orlando's centers of art, culture, and science. One of the main attractions is Orlando Museum of Art (OMA), one of Florida's cultural gems and a popular destination for visitors from all over the world. The collection features American art from the 19th century to the present, African art and art of the ancient Americas. Outstanding temporary exhibitions are drawn from private collections and those of the world's great museums.

The upcoming exhibition at the OMA is called the "The Art of the Motorcycle". Based on the landmark Guggenheim Museum exhibition, it explores the motorcycle as both cultural icon and design achievement and offers a thought-provoking challenge to conventional assumptions about art and popular culture in the modern age. The exhibition will run from Jan. 22 - July 23, 2006 and feature more than 70 historic and contemporary motorcycles.

The Mennello Museum of American Art is centered around the Museum's outstanding permanent collection of paintings by Earl Cunningham (1893-1977). It also houses special exhibitions, publications, and programs that celebrate outstanding traditional and contemporary Amercian artists. The Museum's Cunningham collection was donated by collectors Marilyn and Michael Mennello of Winter Park, Florida, and was opened to the public on Nov. 22, 1998.

The Orlando Science Center includes ten themed exhibit halls with a large variety of interactive activities for children and adults. A CineDome Planetarium shows large format films and an Adventure Theater as well as five Discovery Laboratories can keep everyone busy for hours. In total the Science Center has four levels of hands-on exhibits, a 200-seat cafe, 7,000 square feet of exhibition space for national and international traveling exhibits. The Orlando Science Center is open Monday to Thursdays from 9 am to 5 pm, Fridays and Saturdays from 9 am to 9 pm, and Sundays from noon to 5 pm.

The Orlando-UCF Shakespeare Festival is a non-profit professional theater that produces professional productions of Shakespeare, classics and contemporary plays, as well as plays for young audiences. The group also develops new plays from readings through World Premieres and fosters innovative educational programs to serve the community.

As a professional theatre for family audiences in partnership with UCF, Orlando Repertory Theatre (The Rep) opened its doors on October 9, 2003. The theatre focusses on classic and contemporary children's literature. It is a place where young audiences can come and experience the adventure and creative wonder of watching their favorite characters come to life.

Loch Haven's cultural offerings continue with the annual Orlando International Fringe Festival of theatrical performances. The 10-day, world-renowned festival showcases original works; premiere performances; and first-class improvisational comedy, musicals, drama, mime and dance in 500 shows by more than 300 performers from around the world.

The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra is Central Florida's resident orchestra, appearing in more than 105 performances each season. As a fully professional ensemble, the Orlando Philharmonic engages the talents of more than 80 professional musicians from around the globe. The Philharmonic's mission is to foster and promote symphonic music through excellence in performance, education and cultural leadership.

For general information about Orlando please contact the Orlando Visitors and Convention Bureau.

About The Author

Susanne Pacher is the publisher of a website called Travel and Transitions (www.travelandtransitions.com). Travel and Transitions deals with unconventional travel and is chock full of advice, tips, real life travel experiences, interviews with travellers and travel experts, insights and reflections, cross-cultural issues, contests and many other features. You will also find stories about life and the transitions that we face as we go through our own personal life-long journeys.

Submit your own travel stories in our first travel story contest (http://www.travelandtransitions.com/contests.htm) and have a chance to win an amazing adventure cruise on the Amazon River.

"Life is a Journey Explore New Horizons".

The story with photos is published at Stories and Photos (http://www.travelandtransitions.com/stories_photos/orlando_regional_history_center.htm)

Susanne Pacher sq@travelandtransitions.com


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