Grace Newton

On Feb. 8, a collection of 17th century Dutch art was presented for the first time at the Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College.

The exhibit consists of twenty-seven oil paintings from the Golden Age, depicting music and dance, located throughout the two main galleries of the museum. Created with the Hoogsteder Museum Foundation from the Netherlands, a large amount of the works are from private collections. The subjects of the works show musical instruments, diverse dance styles and the music and dance of daily life in the 17th century.

Dr. Alexander Rich, the head of the Florida Southern College Art History program, also serves as curator of the museum. While he has worked with many different exhibits, this exhibit has been over two years in the making.

“Our first collaboration with Hoogsteder Museum was in June 2017, when we relaunched as an academic museum, affiliated with Florida Southern,” Rich said. “Before he left, we were already talking about the next one.”

According to polkmuseumofart.org, the museum’s mission is to be “a teaching museum that enhances lives through inspirational and engaging art experiences for all.” This academic approach contributed to the decision of the subject matter.

“We knew as an academic museum and one affiliated with FSC… and for the public, we thought the cross-disciplinary work would attract different people,” Rich said.

Focusing on the Dutch Golden Age, the works come from the first time when artists were sought out by the public. However, they also honed their craft and created fantastic and timeless works. The use of oil throughout the exhibit reflects the processes of the time.

“The use of oil paint and brilliant pigment was relatively new in the 1600s,” Rich said. “If you went 100 years back, you’d have minimal use of oil as a medium.”

A particular draw of this exhibit is the exclusivity of the works. 

“They’re from private collections, so if you don’t see them in this exhibit, you never will,” Rich said.

While the works are over 400 years old, Rich believes that the idea that music and dance were part of Dutch daily life should resonate with how integral music and dance are today. With this exhibit, he hopes to show visitors something new.

“I want people to know that this is the largest show in many ways that we have ever done at the Polk Museum of Art, in that it is including rarely seen works from private collections throughout Europe with a theme that many don’t associate with the visual arts,” Rich said.

The exhibit has only been open a short time, but it has already thrilled the public, including FSC students. Moriah Quint, a freshman graphic design and film major, saw the exhibit on its first day, and she hopes many others will take advantage of the opportunity to see the works.

“The new exhibit is incredibly intriguing because of how unique and special it is as a one-of-a-kind exhibit,” Quint said. “Its focus on music and dance of the Dutch Golden Era brings an enrichment of culture and society that is explored not only in high-class society, but low-class as well. To see these magnificent works in person is truly a delight.” 

“Music and Dance in Painting of the Dutch Golden Age” is open now at the Polk Museum of Art and runs through May 31. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Tuesday to Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Admission to the museum is free for all visitors.

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