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Founded in 1961, the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculp­ture Gar­dens holds an art col­lec­tion focus­ing pri­mar­ily on Amer­i­can rep­re­sen­ta­tional sculp­ture, with over 200 works by Czech-born Amer­i­can sculp­tor Albin Polasek. The museum offers guided tours of the his­toric Polasek res­i­dence and chapel, an out­door sculp­ture gar­den and a gift shop. The museum is the retire­ment home of 2004 Florida Artists Hall of Fame inductee Albin Polasek, is listed on the National Reg­is­ter of His­toric Places and is one of only 30 mem­bers of the National Trust’s His­toric Artists’ Homes and Studios.

Born in the province of Moravia (now Czech Repub­lic), Albin Polasek immi­grated to this coun­try as a young wood­carver in 1901. He later attended the Penn­syl­va­nia Acad­emy of the Fine Arts in Philadel­phia and the Amer­i­can Acad­emy of Art in Rome. Dur­ing his influ­en­tial artis­tic and edu­ca­tional career, Polasek won many awards for his works and was com­mis­sioned to cre­ate numer­ous pub­lic sculp­tures now found through­out Europe and Amer­ica. Polasek ded­i­cated his life to encour­ag­ing the study, appre­ci­a­tion and fur­ther­ance of rep­re­sen­ta­tional art.

“I am like a piece of rock which has been bro­ken off of the Carpathian Moun­tains in the heart of Czecho­slo­va­kia. Later this crude stone was trans­ported to the Land of the Free: the United States of Amer­ica. This block of stone was myself. Through the oppor­tu­ni­ties that this coun­try gave me, I started to carve out my des­tiny, to free myself from the rock so that I might be use­ful. No one knows the deep grat­i­tude I feel for all that I have received. So if, as an immi­grant, I have been able to con­tribute to some small part of Amer­i­can life, I know that I owe it to the oppor­tu­ni­ties this coun­try has afforded me.“

Albin Polasek retired to Win­ter Park, Florida in 1949 after nearly thirty years as the head of the Depart­ment of Sculp­ture at the Art Insti­tute of Chicago. In 1961, the Albin Polasek Foun­da­tion was formed at the sculptor’s request, and his gallery was opened to the pub­lic as a museum. In addi­tion, the Foun­da­tion has con­tributed to the cul­ture of Win­ter Park and Cen­tral Florida in many ways since then. Con­tri­bu­tions include the dona­tion of sculp­tures For­est Idyl and the Emily foun­tain to the City of Win­ter Park, the long-term loan of Man Carv­ing His Own Des­tiny to the Win­ter Park Pub­lic Library, art schol­ar­ships to the Uni­ver­sity of Cen­tral Florida, Rollins Col­lege, Cre­alde School of Art, the Penn­syl­va­nia Acad­emy of the Fine Arts, Brown Uni­ver­sity and the Art Insti­tute of Chicago. A sister-city rela­tion­ship between the City of Win­ter Park and Polasek’s home­town of Fren­stat, Moravia, was estab­lished in 1996.

Begin­ning in 1998, the museum’s trustees renewed their com­mit­ment to actively pro­mote Albin Polasek’s legacy based on a coor­di­nated, long-range improve­ment plan. In 2008 the museum was re-roofed and re-painted with pri­vately gen­er­ated funds. This ongo­ing plan focuses on ren­o­vat­ing and expand­ing the museum, increas­ing pub­lic aware­ness of the museum and devel­op­ing cul­tural and edu­ca­tional pro­grams.  As a result of these efforts the museum was added to the National Reg­is­ter of His­toric Places.  Albin Polasek was awarded the honor of Great Florid­ian 2000 and was inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame in 2004. In 2008 the Albin Polasek Museum and Sculp­ture Gar­dens was added to the National Trust’s ‘His­toric Artists’ Homes and Studios’ – an exclu­sive group with only 30 mem­ber orga­ni­za­tions through­out the coun­try, includ­ing the homes and stu­dios of sculp­tors Daniel Chester French and Augus­tus Saint-Gaudens.