Mission: We honor the past, explore the present, to shape the future.
The Orange County Regional History Center, a Smithsonian Institution affiliate and American Alliance of Museums member, is one of the state’s preeminent cultural institutions. The History Center includes a history museum in a renovated 1927 courthouse, the collection of the Historical Society of Central Florida, the Joseph L. Brechner Research Library, the Emporium Museum Store, and Heritage Square park. The museum has advanced its global mission to honor the past, explore the present, and shape the future through wide-ranging programs, permanent and traveling exhibits, and limited-run exhibitions from other prestigious institutions.
The History Center
The Historical Museum first opened in 1942 in the 1892 red brick Orange County Courthouse at the corner of Central and Magnolia, as a pioneer kitchen exhibit for the Central Florida Centennial Celebration. The popular exhibit remained open; and through public donations of historical objects, large and small, books, papers, and photographs, it grew to fill rooms in the old Courthouse.
The collections went into storage from 1957 until 1963, while the county demolished the 1892 Courthouse and built an addition to the 1927 Courthouse on the site of the old building. The museum reopened in the Courthouse Annex in 1963, under the auspices of Orange County Historical Commission, a new county department established by the County Commissioners in 1957 to ensure fiscal and legal stability. By 1970 , the county government needed the space in the annex, so the museum collection was moved again, to the second floor of the Christ Building, a few doors away on Central Boulevard.
The Historical Society of Central Florida
The Orange County Historical Society, Inc., organized in 1971 to raise money for a permanent museum building, which opened in Loch Haven Park in 1976. In 2000, the Historical Museum moved again, back to where it had started at Central Boulevard and Magnolia Avenue. The vacated 1927 Courthouse was restored to become the Orange County Regional History Center, and the Orange County Historical Society became the Historical Society of Central Florida, Inc., operating the History Center in partnership with the Orange County Board of County Commissioners.
The current Orange County Regional History Center showcases the vast collections of the Historical Society of Central Florida, Inc. The museum features four floors of permanent exhibitions and also presents nationally important limited-run exhibitions. In 2006, the museum was accepted as an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and was accredited by the American Association of Museums, the highest honor a museum can receive.
Visit our page on the Historical Society of Central FL, Inc. for more information about board meetings and current members.
Visit our page on Permanent Exhibits for more information about the permanent exhibits on display at the Orange County Regional History Center.
Visit our Online Board of Directors Manual
The History Center houses the collections of the Historical Society of Central Florida.