Polk Museum of Art will no longer charge admission, effective today, thanks to two new institutional partners.

"We stand among the many institutions, large and small, finding ways to remove barriers to access,” said Claire Orologas, executive director of Polk Museum of Art. “As a Smithsonian Affiliate museum, we are proud to follow their example of providing a rich cultural experience to everyone.”

Polk Museum of Art
Polk Museum of Art

Southeastern University and a friend of the community who wishes to remain anonymous have both signed three-year agreements under the relatively new corporate partnership program. Rolled out in 2013, the program allows each of the partners to designate a day of the week they would like to sponsor, as well as a platform for which they become the major sponsor.

As part of its sponsorship, Southeastern will collaborate with the Museum on programming and educational projects, and Southeastern students will take some visual arts classes at the Museum while a new facility is being built on the SEU campus. Southeastern is underwriting the cost of admission on Tuesdays.

“Polk Museum of Art is recognized as a leader in providing a breadth of arts-related experiences to the citizens of Polk County,” said Brian Carroll, SEU’s executive vice president. “Likewise, Southeastern University has positioned itself to be a premier destination for students seeking a quality education. As we are on a trajectory to advance our arts programming at Southeastern University, the Polk Museum of Art provides the perfect partnership and venue for housing our visual arts courses.”

The longtime friend of the Museum, a supporter of access in the arts, agreed to sponsorship to ensure that free admission could be offered every day of the week year-round. The friend is underwriting the cost of admission on Wednesdays.

Polk Museum of Art
Polk Museum of Art

In addition, Clayton and Beverly Hollis, gold patrons of the Museum, have given a gift that will underwrite the cost of admission on Sundays.

The Museum previously announced three corporate partnership agreements: MIDFLORIDA Credit Union, the title sponsor of Mayfaire by-the-Lake, was the first corporate partner, underwriting the cost of admission on Saturdays. BB&T was second, becoming presenting partner for The Gala and underwriting the cost of admission on Fridays. And the Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Foundation was third, becoming the exhibitions partner and underwriting the cost of admission on Thursdays.

“While admission is now underwritten by our generous sponsors, Museum membership remains critical to our exhibition and educational programming,” Orologas said. “The benefits of membership include discounts to classes and events as well as our museum shop, but they also mean reduced or free admission to a national network of museum partners that translate into a tremendous cost savings for families.”

The Museum offered free admission from its founding in 1966 until July 2003, when it instituted a small ($3 for adults) charge to make up a deficit from funding cuts. In 2005, admission rose again to $5 for adults, where it remained until now.