Laurence J. Ruggiero

Dr. Laurence J. Ruggiero, former Director of The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, passed away peacefully on Thursday, March 23, at the age of 74. Ruggiero was appointed Associate Director of the Morse by Hugh F. McKean (1908–95) in 1992 and then Director by the Museum’s Board of Trustees in 1995.

He will be long remembered for his fidelity to the scope and quality of the Museum’s collection, a reflection of the interests, personalities, and ideals of the Museum’s founder Jeannette Genius McKean (1909–89) and Hugh McKean, the Museum’s first Director. Under Ruggiero’s direction, the Morse collection,
its programs, and its stature grew. The Museum completed significant projects, including the Morse’s current Park Avenue location which opened in 1995, the expansion and conservation of Tiffany’s 1893 chapel which opened in 1999, 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 2011 12,000-square-foot Museum expansion.

In 2017, the Morse celebrated its 75th anniversary, and Ruggiero organized an exhibition reflecting the McKeans’ legacy and their vision that the Museum’s continuing mission should be to make art a daily part of the lives of the people of this community. Ruggiero held an MA and PhD in art history from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA in finance from Boston University. He taught art history at the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle, was Assistant to the President at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and then served as
Executive Director of the Oakland Museum Association before becoming Director of The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in 1985.

He is survived by his wife of fifty-three years Virginia, their son John, his sister Marianne, and brother Leonard.

A memorial service will be held at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church in Winter Park on Wednesday, March 29 at 11:30 a.m. where Ruggiero’s life will be celebrated.

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