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: the Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Foundation; the Share Foundation; Southern Homes. The museum is fully accessible.


Music & Dance in Painting of The Dutch Golden Age
Saturday, February 8 - Sunday, May 31, 2020

The 17th century was a period of great wealth and cultural achievement for the Dutch people. In what was then already called a Golden Age, the Netherlands was a world power whose military fleet was growing and where trade, science, and the arts flourished as never before. Of particular note, the pleasures of music and dancing were a fundamental part of life in both the Dutch Republic and the Southern Netherlands, as reflected in the strikingly high number of Dutch and Flemish paintings that include dancing figures, groups of musicians, and compositions of musical instruments.

This exhibition, custom-curated for the Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College by the Hoogsteder Museum Foundation of The Netherlands, showcases 27 Dutch and Flemish paintings from the 17th century, selected and organized around the unifying visual theme of music and dance. All the Masterworks in the exhibition come to the Museum from private European Collections and have not been seen by the wide public before. Visitors will thus have the rare opportunity to see for themselves how brilliantly the Old Masters were able to capture the spirit of the Golden Age in their paintings, revealing in vivid color the insatiable Dutch appetite for singing songs, forming ensembles, and moving to melodies.

A Brush with HerStory: The Paintings of Gabriela Gonzalez Dellosso
Saturday, December 14, 2019 - Sunday, April 12, 2020

Gabriela Gonzalez Dellosso is a premier portrait artist whose art historical knowledge is surpassed only by the skill of her brushwork. This exhibition features Dellosso’s tribute paintings to great but often-overlooked female masters of the past. Looking at women artists from the Renaissance through the modern era, these exquisite academically-rendered paintings are based on in-depth study of artists including Genevieve Estelle Jones, Angelica Kauffman, Sofonisba Anguissola, Remedios Varo, and Sophie Geengembre Anderson. Sadly, these masters have never become mainstream names in the history of art, but they and their stories resonate deeply with Dellosso, who reaffirms their rightful places in art history through her exquisite old master-style paintings.

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.

The Von Wagner Code

The search for answers about a mysteriously rediscovered painting that inspired our groundbreaking Summer 2018 exhibition “The Von Wagner Code” continues in a smaller-scale, long-term installation of the show in our Study Gallery. The damaged, long-lost painting at the center of the exhibit was found on the Florida Southern College campus in 2016 and had been forgotten for over sixty years.

Once thought to date from 17th-century Italy, according to papers believed to be tied to the work at the time of its gift to the College, the painting is now realized to be a version of the famed 19th-century masterpiece “The Chariot Race” by the Hungarian artist Alexander von Wagner. Gifted to the College most likely in the 1940s, this newly-stabilized artwork serves as the visual centerpiece for an installation updated with the most recent discoveries and thematically focused on the surprising history and cultural influence of the painting (including upon the movie “Ben Hur”), the complex story of its vanishing, rediscovery, and eventual reattribution in 2018, and the critical importance of the conservation process in preserving artistic treasures. The twists and turns of the painting’s back-story seem never-ending. Indeed, it was only at the end of the main gallery version of the exhibition that we verified the painting’s true name and artist. Can you help solve The Von Wagner Code?

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