The Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens was founded in 1961 by Albin Polasek, a preeminent sculptor of the early and mid-20th century, an internationally acclaimed artist and resident of Winter Park, Florida. Albin Polasek came to the United States from his native Moravia (now the Czech Republic) in 1901. Having traveled to the United States as a young twenty-something with nothing but talent and an aspiration to become one of the premiere sculptors of his time, his life epitomized the realization of the American Dream. Albin Polasek retired to Winter Park in 1949 after nearly thirty years as the head of the Department of Sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago. His home, studio and gardens became the vehicle by which he would ensure the lasting impact of his legacy and inspire all who visit through its story, setting and art.
Welcome to the inspired world of internationally acclaimed Czech-American sculptor Albin Polasek. We invite you to explore his home, galleries and sculpture gardens located in the heart of Winter Park, Florida, on Lake Osceola. At The Polasek, you will discover art which illustrates and tells the story of the life and times of one of the 20th century’s preeminent sculptors, Albin Polasek.
The Polasek is one of Winter Park’s cultural cornerstones. Our deep, historic roots date back to a time when there were very few cultural institutions in Central Florida. Mr. Polasek dedicated himself to creating the museum almost a half century ago. Along with his wife Emily Muska Kubat Polasek, he established the Albin Polasek Foundation and the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens in 1961 as a permanent home for his art, or as he called his sculptures, “his children,” and opened the residence, galleries, gardens and chapel to the public.
The Albin Polasek Foundation (APF) remains dedicated to our mission and to contributing to the cultural richness of our region. In addition to operating the museum, the APF has donated numerous sculptures to the cities of Winter Park and Orlando.
When visiting The Polasek, I encourage you to stroll through a place that will stir your spirit and soul; a place where you can walk amid treasures of a variety of whimsical and classical sculpture and art surrounded by our exquisite Florida paradise; a place where you can rejoice in the beauty, peace and joy evoked by inspirational art.
Over the past decade the Albin Polasek Foundation has devoted great resources into conserving our art collection, enlarging the gardens, stabilizing our historic buildings and being a proactive member of our region's rich cultural heritage.
On behalf of the Albin Polasek Foundation staff and trustees, thank you to all who have committed their time, talent and treasures to the Albin Polasek Foundation and the preservation of the legacy of Mr. Polasek. Your gift not only helps to carry on the timeless impact of Mr. Polasek's works and the over whelming beauty of the gardens, but it also serves to honor Mr. Polasek and the remarkable standard of character, citizenship and faith that he set during his lifetime. Thank you for your generosity.
We primarily serve residents of and visitors to the Central Florida region. However, that constituency includes a number of international guests that seek out the home and studio of Czech-American sculptor Albin Polasek. Our Foundation also maintains a relationship with the American Friends of the Czech-Republic and the City of Prague, which hosts a Woodrow Wilson sculpture created by Polasek in 1928, destroyed by the Nazis during World War II, and re-created by Czech sculptors in 2011.
At the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens, our goal is to inspire the public to enrich their own lives by learning about our art collection and exhibitions, visiting our historic buildings, and spending time in our lakeside gardens. Guests of all ages come to the Polasek in search of a meaningful connection with and new appreciation for history, culture, and the environment. Numerous recent studies confirm that children and senior citizens, in particular, thrive when exposed to the arts and nature. We strive to be the source for that audience while seeking out new opportunities to connect with underserved populations that can benefit from our collective resources.
The Polasek Museum, originally founded by renowned Czech-American sculptor and artist Albin Polasek in 1966, is a well-established organization that has made a lifelong impact on its guests. Visitors from Central Florida, and throughout the world, return to the Polasek Museum because of our dedication to strategically improving the collection and the grounds, thereby helping to secure the long-term economic sustainability of our organization.
In late 2013, the Polasek Museum expanded its infrastructure with the addition of Winter Park’s historic Capen-Showalter House. Built in 1885, the home was threatened with immediate demolition. In a landmark effort, the Polasek and community partners moved the house across a lake to save it. The Polasek Board of Trustees developed a five-year plan to renovate and re-use the house for exhibition areas, public events, and offices, with the goal of increasing revenue for the museum while providing an opportunity for the people to enjoy this gracious Victorian-era home.
Next steps for the Polasek Museum include the upgrading of the Capen-Showalter House to accommodate public use and create a sculpture garden and walking path leading to Lake Osceola. The house, although in good condition, requires modernization, including exhibit accommodations ($5000), security ($10,000), hardscape improvements ($100,000), landscaping ($30,000), and outdoor lighting to unify the east and west lots and provide for visitor safety ($40,000).
Our visitor demographics span every age group and socio-economic level. We engage our members through a number of annual events, including Paint-Out, which invites artists to create their works outdoors within the community of Winter Park.
The Capen-Showalter will contribute to our regular programming with new exhibit areas featuring collections that contribute to the story of Polasek’s life and work as well as sculptures and reliefs he completed of Capen-family descendants, friends of his in Chicago. Together, the buildings, artworks, gardens, and lake views create an unduplicated experience rich in culture and history, found only at the Polasek Museum.
The Polasek Museum is well-prepared to take on new challenges and strategically expand the mission of the organization and augment our public programming.
Our staff is composed of arts and history professionals, as well as individuals well-versed in landscape design and maintenance. We have a core group of four full-time employees, eight part-time employees, and more than 150 volunteers that assist in the museum galleries, sculpture garden, and the Capen-Showalter House effort. Debbie Komanski, the executive director since January 2004, is an active member of the community, both in business and in the humanities, and is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 1991 President’s Award from the University of Central Florida.
In the last quarter, we have added a number of key personnel and volunteers that can advance the mission of the Polasek. Christine Madrid French is project director for Preservation Capen, the continuing effort to save and re-use the historic Capen-Showalter House. Ms. French, a graduate of the University of Virginia, has worked as a program director with the National Trust for Historic Preservation as well as an architectural historian with the National Park Service. Carynn Jackson, Executive Assistant for the Polasek, has earned a B.A. from the University of Central Florida in Anthropology and History and maintains a particular interest in historic preservation. Two prominent members of the Winter Park community are co-chairing the Preservation Capen effort: Thad Seymour, president emeritus of Rollins College, and Lawson Lamar, former Sheriff of Orange County and State Attorney for Orange and Osceola counties. These gentlemen have brought their business expertise, leadership skills, and long term-community interest to the team at the Polasek
The Polasek Museum maintains a number of professional affiliations—local, regional, and national—that benefit the position of the organization as a premiere arts and history organization. The museum is a member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation Historic Artists’ Homes & Studios program and the Polasek home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Polasek Museum maintains a number of key assessment markers to measure progress towards our long-term strategic goals..
Expanding the infra-structure of the Polasek Museum was targeted as a primary goal in 2000. With the addition of the east lot—now home to the Capen-Showalter House—the museum and board fulfilled this long-term goal and are moving ahead on the next steps.
Behind the Curtain: MicheLee Puppets and the Art of Puppetry
Sunday, November 2, 2014, 2:00 p.m.
Sunday, February 1, 2015, 2:00 p.m.
Sunday, March 29, 2015, 2:00 p.m.
Ayako Yonetani at the Polasek: Exclusive Chamber Concert SeriesDr. Ayako Yonetani, a world renowned violinist, began playing at the age of five and made her solo debut at the age of ten. Later, she made her United States debut as a concertmaster with the New York String Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. Dr.Yonetani received her Bachelor, Masters, and Doctoral degrees from the Juilliard School. Currently, she is a Professor of Violin/Viola at the University of Central Florida and travels the world as a guest soloist. She is a member of Japan’s premier chamber ensemble in Tokyo.
The Museum’s 8th annual three-concert music series features internationally acclaimed violin/viola player Ayako Yonetani and a variety of guest instrumentalists. Held in the elegant salon of the Polasek residence, concert-goers experience acoustic perfection in an intimate setting. Limited to 50 seats, the performance is followed by a private reception. Cost: Members: $80 for three concert series or $30 per concert. General Public: $90 for three concert series or $35 per concert.
The Polasek was founded in 1961, fifty years ago, by a man with a vision to share his love of classical and representational art with future generations. We remain dedicated to that vision. Fifty years later, the Polasek serves more than 20,000 guests annually, and contributes to the economic impact of our community through its facilities, programs, and events. These cultural services support the full-time equivalent of 14.6 jobs, provides $351,625 in household income, and returns $40,324 in State and local government revenues.1 We strive to create a positive environment that encourages exploration, discovery and life-long learning. In order to fulfill our mission we seek partners to help with key funding in the following areas:
• Conservation of our historic building and permanent art collection
• Exhibition funding
• Educational programming
• Enhancement of the Sculpture Gardens
In addition to donors, support comes from our members, local businesses, and other organizations. In the past five years we have grown at all levels or our membership base. We invite you to help ensure that the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens continues to grow and thrive for future generations.
1Based on an input/output model of Americans for the Arts’ Economic Impact Calculator, of comparably sized communities, using annual service statistics from the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens, 2010.
Debbie Komanski has been Executive Director of the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens since January, 2004. She received her degree from the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. As a native of Winter Park and graduate of Winter Park High School, she brings a deep knowledge of the cultural arts and history of the area to the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens and the City of Winter Park.
serves as the Polasek’s Curator and Director of Exhibitions/Programming. Ms.
Frisby received her Bachelor’s in Art History with a minor in Anthropology
from the University of Wisconsin Superior. Subsequently, she earned
her Master’s degree in Museum Studies from the University of Kansas. Before
joining the Polasek’s staff, she worked as the Lead Teacher for the historic
Whatsoever Community Center in the heart of Kansas City, MO. In addition, she worked as the Collections
Specialist for the University of Kansas’s Archive of Recorded Sound and has
been trained as a Laboratory Technician for books and works on paper for
at the Stannard Conservation Laboratory in Lawrence, Kansas. Her curatorial
experience ranges from coordinating university-based student art shows, to
creating exhibitions for historical institutions, such as the Mt. Hood
Museum in Oregon. Since joining the Polasek she has curated the following
exhibitions: Artful Strings: Four Centuries of Harp Making, A Parisian
Affair: The Art of Andre Renoux, Life in the Fast Lane: The Art of David
DeLong, From Start to Finish: The Florida Sculptors Guild Exhibition,
Awakening: The Art of Ursula Schwartz, The Holy Art of Imperial
Russia: Icons from the 17th C. –Early 20th C, Behind
the Curtain: MicheLee Puppets and the Art of Puppetry. As Exhibition/Programming
Director, Ms. Frisby strives to develop collaborative partnerships and
opportunities for artists and organizations, and acts as the representative
for the Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios Program. As an artist and educator,
her goal is to promote collections accessibility and offer exciting educational
programming and visual arts experiences for all visitors.
Ms. Benson graduated from the University of Central Florida with a B.A. in History, and is in currently completing the university’s M.A. History program. She coordinates and trains Museum Volunteers, and is a docent trainer. She also provides docent-led tours of Albin Polasek’s historic residence, and serves as the Museum’s researcher and membership coordinator.
The strengths encompassed by the Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens are that we offer a wide variety of different things to their visitors, we are in close proximity to other museums, we appeal to Cultural Tourism enthusiasts who seek experiences beyond theme parks, our 50th anniversary was celebrated in 2011, we are attractive to volunteers, and we are the primary sculpture museum of the area. Opening the Capen House in 2015 will greatly increase the Museum’s earned income and long term financial sustainability in the coming years.
The weaknesses which are currently affecting the Museum include several competent yet new staff members, a limited budget, a massive project to preserve and open the Capen-Showalter House which was recently moved to the Museum property, maintaining our outdoor collection remains challenging, and the board continues to grow with the development process.
We see opportunities available to our Museum. These opportunities include the grants, bringing the Capen-Showalter House on line and the resulting opportunity to generate earned income for rental and special events held in the space, accessing the visitors that are going to stay in the new hotel a block away, the Museum’s capable volunteers continue to serve our needs, and the annual Paint Out event attracts new members to the Polasek.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens has created and implemented a comprehensive strategy to achieve more self-sustainability. The number one priority was to eliminate a mortgage debt of $600,000. At the end of the first quarter of 2009 this goal was accomplished by a series of actions ranging from a targeted silent capital campaign, sale of non-Polasek assets and concluding negotiations for a one-time-only licensing fee. During the Fall of 2009 the Museum contracted a development consultant to create a comprehensive fundraising plan for the next five years. The consultant also engaged in the initial training of board members on how to be more effective at fundraising in early 2010. The Museum continues to implement the fundraising plan. In addition to fundraising efforts, The Polasek operates in a conservative fiscal manner with limited full-time staff, extensive volunteer support and generous in-kind professional services in order to conserve our financial resources and direct our funds to use for the most effective expenditures to complete our mission. At the same time The Polasek partners with others to collaborate whenever possible to better serve our community. All aspects of the Museum’s operation and programming are regularly reviewed by the Executive Director, Board of Trustee’s leadership, and the Budget and Investment Committee which meets on a regular basis.
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