The mission of the Albin Polasek Foundation is to promote
the legacy of internationally known Czech-American sculptor Albin Polasek,
N.A., and to encourage education in and appreciation for representational art.
The Foundation operates the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens and is
now the steward of the historic Capen-Showalter House; both sites are core to
the mission of enriching the community through the power of inspiration found
in our Stories, Settings and Art.
The Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens was founded in 1961 by Albin Polasek, an internationally-acclaimed artist and resident of Winter Park, Florida. Polasek arrived in the U.S. in 1901 from his native Moravia (now the Czech Republic) as a wood-carving apprentice with an aspiration to follow the American Dream. Within fourteen years, he became an award-winning artist and appointed head of the Sculpture Department at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Polasek retired to Winter Park in 1949 after nearly thirty years at the Art Institute. Albin created a number of his best known sculptures in his Winter Park studio, carving one-handed from his wheelchair after a stroke caused paralysis on his left side. His Florida home, studio and gardens became the vehicle by which he ensured the lasting impact of his legacy in the arts. The Albin Polasek Foundation (established by Polasek in 1961) maintains, preserves, and exhibits more than 200 of his works on canvas, reliefs, and statuary as well as archival drawings, sketches, and photographs. Fifty outdoor sculptures are displayed within our naturalistic gardens, maintained in part by a team of dedicated volunteers. Our outdoor sculpture collection is one of the largest in the region. Polasek’s 1949-era home and studio are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and are recognized as one of only 32 sites in the National Trust’s Historic Artists Homes & Studios consortium of America's most significant artists' spaces. The Foundation is now the steward of another significant historic home with the addition of the 1885 Capen-Showalter House in 2013.
The Polasek Museum is a noted cultural destination, ranked within the “Top 20 Tourist Attractions” in the region by Orlando Business Journal. The Museum and Foundation continues the work of Polasek through public education, specialized courses in the arts, music recitals, exhibits, and tours. The board is focused on increasing the Museum’s profile and impact through strategic partnerships, infrastructure improvements, and expanded programming while remaining mindful of long-term fiscal stability. The Winter Park Paint Out--our premiere fund-raising and outreach event—grows larger and more inclusive each year, with free access to art and an emphasis on breaking down social and economic barriers for diverse communities. More than 30,000 people visit our grounds annually, and we are working towards reaching each one with compelling stories in the arts.
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 the story of the life and work of one of the 20th century’s pre-eminent sculptors, Albin Polasek, while enjoying experiences with historic architecture and the abundance of nature.
The Polasek is one of Winter Park’s cultural keystones. Our roots date back to a time when there were very few arts 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. Reproductions of Albin Polasek’s works are featured throughout Winter Park, including sites at the Public Library, City Hall, and Central Park.
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, but it also serves to honor Mr. Polasek and the remarkable
standard of character, citizenship and faith that he set during his lifetime.
The Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens is an historic home, art facility, and gardens composed of numerous buildings constructed between 1885 and 1961 on a 3.5 acre property. The Polasek is one of only 32 properties listed in the Historic Artist’s Home and Studios program, governed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The constant need for conservation and maintenance of the buildings, collection and grounds requires substantial funds. Additionally, financial support of our everyday activities, programming, operations and other needs demands diligent fundraising actions.
After the death of Emily Polasek (Albin’s wife) in the late 1980’s, the Board of Trustees began a transition to grow beyond small group of her friends and family and refocus the Museum to the mission established by Albin and the Albin Polasek Foundation at its founding in 1961. The board has accomplished five of its major goals in the last 14 years—established as part of a 20-year strategic plan--through strict oversight of a modest endowment, paired with prudent fiscal management and an assertive fundraising program.
The biggest challenge—expanding our capacity with the addition of an adjacent lot and museum structure—is nearing completion. Rather than commissioning new construction, the board cooperated in a widespread effort to save the endangered 1885 Capen-Showalter House. The community enthusiasm generated during this landmark effort increased the profile of the Museum both regionally and nationwide. The board is excited to bring this 130-year-old historic building back to life for the community and ensure the stewardship of the structure into the 21st century.
Continued support and grants from local and regional organizations are key to our continued success. A website and publication project funded by a grant from the Winter Park Community Foundation funds at the Community Foundation of Central Florida, Inc., allowed the Polasek to create www.polasekartsales.com. This website allows us to ensure fiscal stability through sales of limited edition reproductions of Albin Polasek’s most compelling sculptures. The grant also helped raise our museum shop revenue by 133% over the last year by providing funds for site-specific publications. Generous funding from Orange County Arts & Cultural Affairs and the Galloway Foundation helped the organization raise the capital needed to save and restore the historic Capen-Showalter House on our east lot.
The Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens has proudly served our community for over 50 years, providing one of the most unique cultural and inspirational experiences in Central Florida. The Polasek offers a holistic journey through fine arts and history. Today we strive to be engaging, dynamic and to meet the many needs and expectations of our diverse community.
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. The Museum also works with the City of Prague, and assisted in the 2011 re-creation of Polasek’s 1928 Woodrow Wilson monument, destroyed by the Nazis during World War II.
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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