Polk Museum expansion

The Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern college today announced a $6 million, 10,000-square-foot expansion that will triple the gallery space and add classrooms and art labs.

Here are some of the particulars:

WHO: Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College

WHAT: Major expansion and renovation – 10,000 square feet; $6 million; two stories

WHEN: Construction begins later this year; expected completion: spring 2024

WHERE: Northwest side of the current building at 800 E. Palmetto St.

WHY: Provide three times the current gallery space, allowing the museum to show more of its collection of 2,800 works, as well as adding classroom and art laboratory space.

SPEAKERS at today’s announcement: FSC President Anne B. Kerr, museum Board President Lynda Buck, museum Executive Director Alex Rich and Mayor Bill Mutz

VIDEO of the announcement: Here or at the end of this article.

FUND RAISING: The $6 million capital campaign has raised $4,032,500 as of today. Donations are accepted here.

INITIAL GIFT: Came from a 1979 FSC alumnus who provided an incentive for others to give, according to Kerr. She didn’t name the alumnus.

MORE ON THE GIFT: Buck said Kerr approached her in December with news that $1 million had been offered for the museum.

ARCHITECT: Tim Hoeft of Straughn Trout Architects

BENEFITS include allowing the museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate, to mount more Smithsonian exhibits, including ones that offer immersive experiences.

ALSO: At least six new galleries, event spaces, additional storage and restoration space

RENOVATIONS include the current entrance, replacing flooring on the first level, updates to the second-floor galleries, classrooms and offices.

MUSEUM NUMBERS: 15 full-time employees; $1.7 million fiscal 2022 budget; 140,000 annual visitors; 3,200 square feet of gallery space currently

BEGINNINGS: The museum was founded by the Lakeland Junior League as a children’s museum downtown in 1966 with an initial budget of $5,000, Buck said today. It later moved into a renovated Publix store on Palmetto Street, which made way for the current building, which opened in 1988.


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Barry Friedman founded Lkldnow.com in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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