- Old friends are best. John Selden
Visit the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens
Albin Polasek, a renowned 20th-century Czech-American sculptor, chose Winter Park, Florida, as his retirement home and created this beautiful paradise on the shore of Lake Osceola. Celebrated during his lifetime by both the public and his peers, his work can be seen not only in Winter Park but throughout the world.
Born in Frenstat, Moravia (now the Czech Republic), Polasek worked as a wood carver in Vienna before immigrating to the United States at the age of 22. He continued his career in altar-carving factories, first in Dubuque, Iowa, and then in La Crosse, Wisconsin, participating in the creation of many church interiors in the Midwest. He then studied sculpture at The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, and won the Prix de Rome. He returned to the Midwest, where he was head of the Sculpture Department at the Art Institute of Chicago for 30 years, winning many honors as well as being elected to the National Academy of Design.
After moving to Winter Park in 1950, Polasek suffered a stroke and was paralyzed on the left side of his body. Nevertheless, he married twice and continued to sculpt and paint. Many of his “post-stroke” period works can be seen here where they were created, including a monumental version of Man Carving His Own Destiny chiseled from limestone. This signature work was Polasek’s view of his own journey as a grateful immigrant who made the most of every opportunity America afforded him. His inspirational story lives on at the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens in the home that he designed and studio where he worked, both filled with Old World charm. The stunning home, with its tiled roofs and architectural sculpture, is set off by his magnificent works of art that are tucked all around the lush gardens. In addition to viewing all the classical figurative sculpture and whimsical mythological pieces onsite, visitors can tour the changing exhibition gallery, see Polasek’s personal chapel, and enjoy his courtyard where his “Emily” sculpture graces a fountain, playing her harp to welcome guests.