MORSE, ALBERT REYNOLDS (20 Oct. 1914 – 15 Aug. 2000) and his wife ELEANOR REESE MORSE (21 Oct. 1912 – 1 Jul. 2010) were Cleveland philanthropists noted for their collection of the works of Salvador Dalí, the Spanish surrealist artist. Sharing their knowledge and understanding of Dalí and his art was a lifelong mission for the couple. Until 1971, the Morses displayed their collection in their home. When they loaned over 200 pieces to a Dalí retrospective in 1965, they realized that 25 years of curation had produced a unique collection that needed a permanent home.

In March 1971, with Salvador Dalí presiding over the opening, the Morses opened a museum adjacent to Injection Molding Supply, later called the IMS Company, in BEACHWOOD

By the end of the decade, the Morses decided to move their collection again. When Reynolds and Reese couldn't agree with the CLEVELAND MUSEUM OF ART  and other interested parties, they donated the collection to set up The Salvador Dalí  Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Museum is home to more masterpieces of Dalí than any other museum in the world, including the large-scale paintings “The Hallucinogenic Toreador,” “The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus,” “The Ecumenical Council,” “Geopoliticus Child Watching the Birth of the New Man,” and “The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory.” 

Reynolds Morse was born in Denver, Colorado, to Bradish P. and Anna Morse. His father ran a specialist mining and machinery company, Morse Brothers Machinery. His mother was the daughter of pioneer Albert Eugene Reynolds.

Morse graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He then earned an MBA at the Harvard Business School. For a decade after his MBA, Reynolds worked in industry before starting his own firm, IMS, manufacturers of industrial plastic molding accessories, in Beachwood in 1949.

Reese Morse was the daughter of Cleveland pharmaceuticals manufacturer George Reese. After graduating from the HATHAWAY BROWN SCHOOL, she earned a bachelor's degree in music from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, in 1937. She studied music in Italy and earned a Master’s degree in French and Spanish from CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY

The Morses were married on 21 Mar. 1942. Several weeks before their wedding, they visited a traveling Dalí retrospective at the Cleveland Museum of Art organized by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. They became fascinated with the artist's work. On 21 Mar. 1943, the Morses bought their first Dalí painting, "Daddy Longlegs of the Evening, Hope! (1940)," as a belated wedding gift to themselves. The painting was the first of many acquisitions, culminating 40 years later in the preeminent collection of Dalí's work in America. In April 1943, they met Gala and Salvador Dalí – the start of a lifelong friendship. 

Surrealist artist Salvador Dalí with his friends Reynolds and Reese Morse
Image courtesy of Judy Hardiman of Hardiman Images
Surrealist artist Salvador Dalí with his friends Reynolds and Reese Morse.


Overcoming many obstacles, including federal and local zoning laws, the couple opened a museum displaying their collection in a wing of their business premises on Commerce Park Road in Beachwood in 1971. Dalí presided over the festivities. The Museum was open to the public, and admission was free, but visitors had to make an appointment and be a "dedicated and interested individual." 

In an article on the museum opening in the PLAIN DEALER, Reynolds is quoted as saying, "the museum is thought to be the first art museum in the US dedicated to the art of one man.”  

By 1979, the Morses owned 94 Dalí oil paintings, 150 watercolors and drawings, and more than 1,000 prints and other objects. An article in Life Magazine said that if Reynolds sold the collection, he would be among the 27 richest men in the world. 

For nine years, the collection was open to the public in the Beachwood location, but in 1980 the Morses had outgrown the space and began looking for a new home. The collection was offered to the Cleveland Museum of Art, but the Museum turned it down. One of the Museum's experts on modern art said, "It was just too big for us. It's not the case that people in Cleveland are against Dalí or the Morses. Major Museums just don’t have the kind of room to exhibit so many works from one man.” 

Then the Morses announced they would donate the collection to a new museum on the northwest corner of Old River Rd. and Superior Ave. NW in the $37 million Settlers’ Landing Project, a Higbee Development Co. project. When that deal fell through, the University of Texas at Austin expressed interest. 

After seeing an article in the 18 Jan. 1980 Wall Street Journal, "U.S. Art World Dilly Dallies over Dalí," a St. Petersburg Florida attorney, James W. Martin, persuaded local leaders to approach the Morses to choose St. Petersburg. With over $3 million in financial support of the City of St. Petersburg and the State of Florida, the collection moved to Florida. At first, the collection was housed in a warehouse on the waterfront, but in 2011 it moved to a new, larger $36 million-dollar, storm-secure Museum built just to house the collection. The Museum opened on 1-11-11 (at 11:11 am). 

Reese's linguistic background made her instrumental in translating and disseminating Dalí 's writings and ideas to a broader audience. Her translations include works by and about Dalí, including Dalí de Draeger (1968), The Tragic Myth of Millet's Angelus (1986), Salvador Dalí: The Work the Man by Robert Descharnes (1984), and numerous other writings. Her contributions to the literary and artistic fields led Rollins College to confer a Doctorate of Fine Arts upon her and subsequently honored her with the Medal of Distinguished Alumna of the Year. Twice decorated by the French government, she received the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Palmes Academiques for her scholarship and the Chevalier de l'Ordre de Palmes National du Merite for spreading French culture abroad. She was President of Le Cercle de Conferences Françaises de Cleveland and President of the Federation of Alliances Françaises in the United States. Reese received the Lazo de Dama de la Orden de Isabel La Catolica (Cross of the Officer of the Order of Isabella the Catholic). This knighting is the highest honor the Spanish government can bestow upon a non-Spanish citizen.

In addition to running IMS and collecting the works of Dalí, Reynolds published Injection Molding News, added to the rock collection of the Denver Natural History Museum, where he was a trustee. He collected George Elbert Burr manuscript materials which he donated to the Denver Public Library. He authored George Elbert Burr: Etcher of the American West and published an anthology of his own, which he called Some Fifty Unprofessional Poems and "Gold Links Tailings" in memory of his maternal grandfather. His The Works of M. P. Shiel was published in 1948; he later turned this work into a four-tome set and added The Quest for Redonda and The New King. In 1989 Reynolds donated his Shiel collection to Olin Library at Rollins College.

Reynolds and Reese had one son, Bradish (Brad) Goodell Morse. 

On 15 Aug. 2000, Reynolds Morse died in Seminole, Florida, after a long illness. He was 85. Reese Morse died on 1 Jul. 2010, in St. Petersburg, Florida, of natural causes. She was 97. Reese and Reynolds are buried in Fairmont Cemetery in Denver, Colorado. 

Jim Culley


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