Modern & Contemporary Art
Because of its location in the heart of Florida, the Polk Museum of Art collection of Modern and Contemporary Art began with a focus on art made within the state; either by Floridians or made within Florida by transplants and visiting artists. The artists represented in the collection mirror the great diversity within the statewide population, including works by Cuban-American and other Latino artists, African-American artists and Asian-American artists.
Since 1983, and as the aspirations and stature of Polk Museum of Art have risen, the scope of the collection has increased to include works by nationally and internationally recognized artists and Florida artists whose work has met the highest standards of artistic competency. Polk Museum of Art has now expanded its collection to include works by major artists throughout the modern era.
In 2004, Norma Canelas and William D. Roth graciously gave Polk Museum of Art the seeds for a new collection of African art. This gift of 56 traditional pieces made from a variety of media include the Himba, San, Zulu, Ntwana, Swazi, Bhaca, Sotho, Ndebele, Thembu, Pedi, and Batonka cultures.
Polk Museum of Art owns collections of metal objects that date from 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 in the Asian Art collection 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, which were donated by Reverend Muneharu Kurozumi, Chief Patriarch of Kurozumi-kyo Shintoism. In 2006, William D. and Norma Canelas Roth donated a large collection of Japanese textiles to further expand the museum's holdings of Asian art..
Pre-Coumbian art was one of the earliest collecting areas adopted by Polk Museum of Art. Initiated by a major gift from Winter Haven collectors Dr. David and Lucia Taxdal, this collection now features artifacts from many cultural groups in present-day Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Peru. The objects date from c. 800 BCE to c. 1500 CE and include ceramics, textiles, stone carvings, and precious metal pieces. Hallmark objects are a male effigy figure from the Remojades area of Veracruz, a polychrome jaguar vessel from Costa Rica, and a Moche effigy vessel from Peru. A majority of the museum's Pre-Columbian collection is on permanent display in the museum's Taxdal Pre-Columbian Gallery.
This portion of the collection focuses on European ceramics from the 15th to the 19th century, English silver (primarily Georgian), 18th and 19th century American silver, and a small selection of 19th and 20th metal bells. Highlights from this collection include Italian majolica from the 15th and 16th centuries, French faience from the 17th and 18th centuries, and over 60 pieces of English Georgian silver. We have recently begun to expand this collection further into the 20th Century with the acquisition of a Picasso ceramic plate and a Tiffany lamp.