Art museum


Works such as Joost Van Gee’s “Woman Playing a Viola” will be on display at the exhibit.

POLK COUNTY – Three quarters of the annual Polk Museum of Art exhibit budget for 2020 has been designated for single exhibit, one which will be on display beginning Feb. 8 and through to May 31.

“Music and Dance in Painting of the Dutch Golden Age” will showcase 27 Dutch and Flemmish paintings from the 17th Century. The Polk Museum of Art will be the first museum in the world to display these works of art.

Polk Museum of Art Executive Director and Chief Curator Dr. H. Alexander Rich gave a presentation to the Winter Haven Arts Advisory Committee Dec. 10.

“It's the most expensive exhibit that we have ever put on,” Rich said.

According to the Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College, the exhibit was custom-curated by the Hoogsteder Museum Foundation of The Netherlands.

“The 17th century was a period of great wealth and cultural achievement for the Dutch people,” according to the museum website. “In what was then already called a Golden Age, the Netherlands was a world power whose military fleet was growing and where trade, science, and the arts flourished as never before. Of particular note, the pleasures of music and dancing were a fundamental part of life in both the Dutch Republic and the Southern Netherlands, as reflected in the strikingly high number of Dutch and Flemish paintings that include dancing figures, groups of musicians, and compositions of musical instruments.”

All the works in the exhibition will come to the museum from private European collections and have not been widely seen previously by the public, Rich said.

In addition to the upcoming exhibit, there are some other recent changes at the museum that may be of interest to residents.

Each first Thursday of the month, the museum will remain open until 8 p.m., with the intention of giving those who normally work during the day a chance to check out some art. Rich will lead a curated tour on those nights, with the tour beginning at 6 p.m.

On each Tuesday from Feb. 4 to March 10, teens and adults can take various classes at the museum, between 6 and 9 p.m. Offered classes include Stop Motion Animation; Teen Portfolio Development; Pastel Painting; Painting: Adding Figures to Landscapes; Beginning Photography; Art Appreciation: Elements and Principles of Art; Art Appreciation: Female Artists; Realistic Colored Pencil Portraiture; Painting on Silk; Paper Sculpture; and Intro to Clay.

Classes are free for members and $80 for non-members. Those interested can register online at

“It's going to be an exciting way to start the year,” Rich said. “It's exciting working on these things.”

In addition to being chief curator at the museum, Rich is also Florida Southern College Art History and Museum Studies Chair.

Winter Haven Arts Advisory Committee Chair Judy Cleaves asked Rich how the committee could help in his endeavors. Rich said getting more Winter Haven residents to become members of the museum would be of great help.

“We are not Lakeland's art museum,” Rich said. “We are Polk County's art museum.”

Contact Charles A. Baker III at