Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College Break Ground for Expansion

Nov 1, 2022

by FSC Staff

The planned $7 million expansion of the Polk Museum of Art has taken a major step forward with groundbreaking ceremonies held on Thurs., Nov. 27.

The 14,000 square foot expansion was announced earlier this year and should officially open in spring of 2024. The primary architect for the project is Tim Hoeft of Straughn Trout Associates of Lakeland, while Rodda Construction of Lakeland will build the structure.

Video provided by The Polk Museum of Art

The two-story addition will be located on the northwest side of the present building. In tandem with the remodeling of the existing building, the expansion will provide new multi-purpose space with the ability to house at least six new galleries featuring special art collections, special events spaces, classrooms, and additional storage and restoration areas. Additionally, the front entrance of the PMoA will be renovated with additional upgrades to the first and second floors.

Dr Rich Talking

“This is a huge day for us. The museum has been around for 56 years and the physical plant that we’re in is 37 years old and it has served us well, but we have outgrown in terms of our aspirations,” said Dr. H. Alexander Rich, executive director and chief curator of the Museum and chair of Florida Southern College’s Department of Art History and Museum Studies. “This is a tremendous moment for us in terms of its growth and for what we can do for both our regional community but also academic community at Florida Southern College.”

The Polk Museum of Art is proud to be a Smithsonian Affiliate Museum. This expansion will enable additional exhibits from the Smithsonian to be shared with our community and students, resulting in a dynamic arts venue that will greatly enrich the cultural offerings in our community.

“This year, we had 113,000 visitors go through our doors,” stated Lynda Buck, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Polk Museum of Art. “We are going to take this museum to the next level.”

With the new changes, the Polk Museum of Art and Florida Southern College continue their trajectory toward becoming home to one of the nation’s leading academic fine art museums and scholarly centers for the study of the arts and visual culture. FSC’s Department of Art History & Museum Studies currently resides inside the Museum, one of the only higher education programs operated from a museum. The proximity offers unique opportunities to students in the field and across disciplines, providing an exceptional engaged learning experience. The expansion will provide additional hands-on experiences for students, including internships, volunteer opportunities, and pre-professional development programs.

PMoA model

The Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College is a teaching museum that seeks to enhance lives through inspirational and engaging art experiences for all. As the largest and only nationally accredited visual arts organization in Polk County and the only Smithsonian Affiliate art museum in Central Florida, the Museum offers world-class, creative, and original exhibitions for all members of the community and beyond. With free admission, the Museum champions the accessibility of arts education, inspiring visitors of all ages and interest levels to explore, learn, and find something in the world of art to appreciate. The Museum also seeks continued engagement with the community and our members through programming and educational opportunities such as studio and lecture classes for teens and adults, in-person and virtual events, kid-focused art programs, MUSEings: The Polk Museum of Art Blog, and more.

The Polk Museum of Art is located at 800 E Palmetto Street, Lakeland, Florida. The Museum is open Tuesday – Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Connect with the Museum at PolkMuseumofArt.org, Facebook, and Instagram.