Polk Museum of Art sheds ‘New Light’ in Lakeland

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Instead of spending another Saturday by the pool or in front of a television screen in your dorm room, consider making an adventure out of your afternoon with free admission at the Polk Museum of Art.

One of Florida’s Top 10 art museums is located just a few blocks from Florida Southern College’s campus, and offers a feast for the eyes along with a passion for the community.

The Polk Museum of Art is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institute, which makes it a highly prestigious museum that offers traveling exhibits that change about every three months.

One exhibit in particular that has caused the museum to receive a lot of attention is their latest exhibition entitled, “Stephen Knapp: New Light.”

Stephen Knapp is an artist from Massachusetts who created the idea of “lightpaintings.” Lightpaintings are produced by using carefully cut and polished pieces of coated glass that is then installed at different angles onto a wall’s surface. Colored beams of light are then reflected through the glass in order make abstract shapes.

From across the gallery the artwork seems to be painted, but is in fact just sculptures constructed of glass and light. Knapp’s 14 pieces have been in place since Dec. 14, and Horan says they have attracted much attention from near and far.

This exhibit leaves the museum on March 8.

Two other exhibits that are currently at the museum are entitled “Inventing Narratives” and “Home.”

“Inventing Narratives” encourages you to look at a piece of artwork and come up with a story based off it.

“Home” incorporates pieces of artwork that deal with what makes up a person’s idea behind the meaning of a home.

While those exhibits change every three months, the two permanent galleries are by a photographer and author Peter Menzel, who visited Florida Southern in 2012 after his book “Hungry Planet” was featured as the common reading.

Public Relations and Marketing Manager Sandra Dimsdale Horan describes the Polk Museum of Art as, “a small museum with big ideas. We have great traveling shows. We also have some really cool and avant-garde art.”

The diversity of the art exhibits from paintings to photography to glass sculptures, featured in the Polk Museum of Art attract many people, especially college students.

“I think students gain an awareness for art when they enter the museum. College is a great time to explore things that you may not otherwise. You don’t always have time once you get out to just wander through a museum,” Horan said.

With its free admission and exclusive works of art, the Polk Museum of Art makes for a great date location or just a place to enjoy an afternoon with friends. It is likely you will learn a thing or two when you are there.

“Going to the Polk Museum of Art helped me as a student because when I went to the museum there was an exhibit on ancient Mexican cultures and artifacts. This gave me something relevant to talk about in my Spanish class,” junior Alexis Burke said.

Whether you are a creative soul or just want to learn something outside of the classroom atmosphere, you can enjoy the short walk to 800 East Palmetto Street, Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sundays 1 p.m.-5 p.m.