Polk Museum of Art

800 E. Palmetto St., Lakeland, FL 33801 - United States



Smithsonian Affiliate Museum

Free Everyday

The Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida, is a private, not-for-profit academic fine art museum dedicated to promoting inspirational and engaging arts experiences for all. It is one of the Top 10 art museums in the State of Florida, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and the only art museum accredited by the American Alliance of Museums serving the 666,000 residents of Polk County. Museum hours are 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tuesdays – Saturdays; 1-5 p.m. Sundays (closed Sundays June 1 through Labor Day) and closed Mondays and major holidays. Admission is free for everyone year-round, thanks to the following
organizations: MIDFLORIDA Credit Union; the Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Foundation; and the Share Foundation. The museum is fully accessible.


The Art of Romaine Brooks
September 8, 2018 – December 9, 2018
This exhibition The Art of Romaine Brooks, on loan from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, brings together 18 paintings and 32 drawings by the American expatriate artist Romaine Brooks (1874-1970), a number of which have not been seen for decades. An extraordinarily independent woman, Brooks crafted an androgynous appearance and a unique artistic voice that challenged conventions of how women should look and behave; her rebellious ideas extend to many of the portraits she painted in the 1920s and underline the alluring modernity of her best-known works. Early in her career, Brooks adopted a muted color palette consisting primarily of black, white and various subtle shades of gray, ochre, umber, or red, strongly reminiscent of fellow American expatriate master, James McNeill Whistler, whose paintings she admired.

Sad Tropics
September 21, 2018 – November 2, 2019
A site-specific multimedia installation, Sad Tropics will be produced at and exclusively for the Melvin and Burks Galleries at Florida Southern College by New Orleans artists and Florida natives Cristina Molina and Jonathan Traviesa. Inspired by Claude Levi-Strauss’ book title Tristes Tropiques, this exhibition focuses on the psychological landscape of paradise, the tropics, and the mythology of Florida. Through photographic murals, videos, and a themed gift shop installation at the Polk Museum, the artists will celebrate and critique the eccentricities of their Floridian inspiration.

Florida Southern College, our affiliated partner institution, is located only a short walking distance from the Museum, and Sad Tropics will be our first collaborative Museum-College exhibition and installation to be shown at the historic FSC Frank Lloyd Wright-designed campus, which is ranked as one of the most beautiful campuses in the U.S.

Material World
A Global Family Portrait
The Material World: A Global Family Portrait exhibition is the result of American photojournalist Peter Menzel’s project to help viewers grasp a sense of cross-culture realities and to celebrate our common humanity. Sixteen of the world’s foremost photographers traveled around the world, visiting thirty different countries to live for a week with families that are statistically average for that nation. At the end of each visit, the photographer and subjects collaborated on the Big Picture, a remarkable portrait of the family outside of their home, surrounded by all of their possessions. This exhibition is an attempt to capture through photos and statistics, both the common humanity of the peoples inhabiting our Earth and the great differences in material goods and circumstances that make rich and poor societies.

Hungry Planet
What the World Eats
For the first time in history, more people are overfed than underfed. And while some people still have barely enough to eat, others overeat to the point of illness. To find out how mealtime is changing in real homes, authors Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio visited families around the world to observe and photograph what they eat during the course of one week. During their project, they sat down to eat with twenty-five families in twenty-one countries.

As Peter and Faith ate and talked with families, they learned firsthand about food consumption around the world and its corresponding causes and effects. The resulting family portraits, which are displayed in this exhibition, offer a glimpse into the cultural similarities and differences served on dinner plates around the globe.

This show joins Material World: A Global Family Portrait in the Marks Gallery to stimulate further thought and discussion about cultural commonalities and differences.

This show joins Material World: A Global Family Portrait in the Marks Gallery to stimulate further thought and discussion about cultural commonalities and differences.

Art of the Ancient Americas
A comprehensive overview of Pre-Columbian artifacts from Mexico, Central America, Colombia and Peru.

Ancient Art of the Americas, a refocused installation of the Museum’s collection of Pre-Columbian artworks which was completed in December 2000, and updated with recent acquisitions in March 2003, features a comprehensive overview of artifacts from Mexico, Central America, Colombia and Peru. The gallery is divided into two themed rooms. Warriors, Priests, and Rituals presents effigies related to those three categories, including bound prisoners, warriors ready for battle, and priest figures. The second room is arranged geographically, with artifacts grouped according to the current name of the country in which they were found. This arrangement allows visitors to see how cultures that were geographically close influenced each other. This room also contains an archaeology display which explains how scientists uncover and interpret artifacts like those in the gallery.


Participation in Museum Day is open to any tax-exempt or governmental museum or cultural venue on a voluntary basis. Smithsonian magazine encourages museum visitation, but is not responsible for and does not endorse the content of the participating museums and cultural venues, and does not subsidize museums that participate.