Once housed in a former Publix supermarket building, in 2016, the Polk Museum of Art celebrated its 50th anniversary, and since 2017 the Museum has been affiliated with Florida Southern College. A Smithsonian affiliate, the Polk offers students, faculty and the community-at-large opportunities to experience Masterwork exhibitions, participate in academic programs of excellence as well as onsite internships, and conduct meaningful art history research.
The permanent collection has grown to more than 2,500 works of art, including works by nationally and internationally recognized artists including Rembrandt, Andy Warhol, Faith Ringgold, Pablo Picasso, Miriam Shapiro, James Rosenquist, Barbara Kruger, Marc Chagall, Damien Hirst, Hung Liu. The Museum's collection of Modern and Contemporary Art mirrors diversity within the statewide population, including works by Cuban-American and other Latino artists, African-American artists and Asian-American artists. Also held are African and Pre-Columbian collections and British and European Decorative Arts from the 15th- to 20th-centuries.
Of note is the collection of Korean Silla-period ceramic and metal objects dated 300-900 CE; 19th- and 20th-century Chinese and Japanese ceramics, ivories, and textiles; Chinese and Japanese scrolls; Japanese woodblock prints; and Indian decorative arts. Of particular significance is a portfolio of rare 19th-century Japanese woodblock prints by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi depicting the Thirty-two Aspects of Women and a group of 48 ceramic objects by noted 20th-century Japanese artists.
A year-round display of themed exhibitions of Florida Southern College's museum collection of American figurative art is made possible by FSC Alumnus J. William Meek, III. The George Jenkins Student Gallery at the Polk Museum hosts several exhibitions per year in the George Jenkins Gallery that featuring artwork by Polk County School District students. From each of these exhibitions, one piece is purchased to be added to the Museum's Student Collection.
Revealing the artist’s mastery in depicting lifelike movement
Dioramas re-imagine the creative environments of famous artists
Work by Polk County students, grades K through 5
The work of graduating seniors
Polk County High School Exhibition
Explores the golden age of handmade books, the 13th- through 18th-centuries
U.S. House of Representatives national art competition
A tapestry of talents and styles of 11 Cuban-American artists
Fables of La Fontaine etchings paired with Story of Exodus lithographs
Work devoid of preconceived ideas and direction
Emotionally-charged imagery of varied expressions of power
More than 75 works explore the path to Impressionism through the 19th century
The horse in paintings and sculpture