Polasek Museum & Sculpture Garden, Winter Park, Florida

In the heart of Winter Park Florida is a precious little garden and museum devoted to the sculptor Albin Polasek.

Polacek Museum 24 Polasek Museum & Sculpture Garden, Winter Park, Florida
Polacek Museum & Sculpture Garden

Founded in 1961, the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculp­ture Gar­dens holds an art col­lec­tion focus­ing pri­mar­ily on Amer­i­can rep­re­sen­ta­tional sculp­ture, with over 200 works by Czech-born Amer­i­can sculp­tor Albin Polasek.

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The museum offers guided tours of the his­toric Polasek res­i­dence and chapel, an out­door sculp­ture gar­den and a gift shop. We took an unguided tour of the sculpture garden. It was paved and accessiible – a real treat!

Polacek Museum 27 Polasek Museum & Sculpture Garden, Winter Park, Florida
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The museum is the retire­ment home of 2004 Florida Artists Hall of Fame inductee Albin Polasek, is listed on the National Reg­is­ter of His­toric Places and is one of only 30 mem­bers of the National Trust’s His­toric Artists’ Homes and Studios.

main pol f8 Polasek Museum & Sculpture Garden, Winter Park, Florida

Born in the province of Moravia (now Czech Repub­lic), Albin Polasek immi­grated to this coun­try as a young wood­carver in 1901. He later attended the Penn­syl­va­nia Acad­emy of the Fine Arts in Philadel­phia and the Amer­i­can Acad­emy of Art in Rome. Dur­ing his influ­en­tial artis­tic and edu­ca­tional career, Polasek won many awards for his works and was com­mis­sioned to cre­ate numer­ous pub­lic sculp­tures now found through­out Europe and Amer­ica. Polasek ded­i­cated his life to encour­ag­ing the study, appre­ci­a­tion and fur­ther­ance of rep­re­sen­ta­tional art.

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“I am like a piece of rock which has been bro­ken off of the Carpathian Moun­tains in the heart of Czecho­slo­va­kia. Later this crude stone was trans­ported to the Land of the Free: the United States of Amer­ica. This block of stone was myself.

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Through the oppor­tu­ni­ties that this coun­try gave me, I started to carve out my des­tiny, to free myself from the rock so that I might be use­ful. No one knows the deep grat­i­tude I feel for all that I have received.

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So if, as an immi­grant, I have been able to con­tribute to some small part of Amer­i­can life, I know that I owe it to the oppor­tu­ni­ties this coun­try has afforded me.”

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Albin Polasek retired to Win­ter Park, Florida in 1949 after nearly thirty years as the head of the Depart­ment of Sculp­ture at the Art Insti­tute of Chicago.

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In 1961, the Albin Polasek Foun­da­tion was formed at the sculptor’s request, and his gallery was opened to the pub­lic as a museum.

Polacek Museum 27 Polasek Museum & Sculpture Garden, Winter Park, Florida
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In addi­tion, the Foun­da­tion has con­tributed to the cul­ture of Win­ter Park and Cen­tral Florida in many ways since then. Con­tri­bu­tions include the dona­tion of sculp­tures For­est Idyl and the Emily foun­tain to the City of Win­ter Park, the long-term loan of Man Carv­ing His Own Des­tiny to the Win­ter Park Pub­lic Library,

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art schol­ar­ships to the Uni­ver­sity of Cen­tral Florida, Rollins Col­lege, Cre­alde School of Art, the Penn­syl­va­nia Acad­emy of the Fine Arts, Brown Uni­ver­sity and the Art Insti­tute of Chicago.

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A sister-city rela­tion­ship between the City of Win­ter Park and Polasek’s home­town of Fren­stat, Moravia, was estab­lished in 1996.

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Begin­ning in 1998, the museum’s trustees renewed their com­mit­ment to actively pro­mote Albin Polasek’s legacy based on a coor­di­nated, long-range improve­ment plan. In 2008 the museum was re-roofed and re-painted with pri­vately gen­er­ated funds.

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This ongo­ing plan focuses on ren­o­vat­ing and expand­ing the museum, increas­ing pub­lic aware­ness of the museum and devel­op­ing cul­tural and edu­ca­tional pro­grams.

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As a result of these efforts the museum was added to the National Reg­is­ter of His­toric Places.  Albin Polasek was awarded the honor of Great Florid­ian 2000 and was inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame in 2004.

Polacek Museum 26 Polasek Museum & Sculpture Garden, Winter Park, Florida
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In 2008 the Albin Polasek Museum and Sculp­ture Gar­dens was added to the National Trust’s ‘His­toric Artists’ Homes and Studios’ – an exclu­sive group with only 30 mem­ber orga­ni­za­tions through­out the coun­try, includ­ing the homes and stu­dios of sculp­tors Daniel Chester French and Augus­tus Saint-Gaudens.

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There is a special vibe about the way the sculptures in the garden “nest” in the garden and borrow from the lake and climate.

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We were able to stop and meditate throughout the garden on its many resting places in sun and shade.

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But what captured us most was the majestic subjects sitting in a home setting, and without one overpowering the other.

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Perhaps it the majestic greenery in the garden that matched so well the sculptures, or maybe the way the Florida weather just seems to make us bask in the warmth without asking much from us in return.

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Everything is so green, yet eye-popping reds and flowers and other growing spectacles capture the visual landscape around each statue.

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And then we turn a corner and are captured again by another masterpiece asking nothing but to be noted or just remembered for another time and place.

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We must obey, and follow, and tuck its memory into the recesses of our minds and pull out when we are home and need a lift or a tender sight or just a place for our eyes to light.

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About shenandoah kepler

Hi! I'm Shenandoah, an ancient gardener, attempting to age in place at home and in my garden. I'm in dream zone 7a able to grow just about anything. I want to help others plan their garden and living experience to age in place and never grow old in their hearts!

2 thoughts on “Polasek Museum & Sculpture Garden, Winter Park, Florida

  1. Where is The Sower? It is odd that such a dynamic, centerpiece sculpture has been disincluded from this site. One would almost think that museum personnel are trying to hide something. Very strange.

    1. The light was very glaring at this statue so the photo just wasn’t very good. Sorry you missed it, and glad you missed it. I will have to get to the museum either much earlier or much later to do it justice in photographic form. The cast they have is not as beautiful as the one in Chicago. They need to oil their bronzes down there in Florida, but that is just my opinion!

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