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The Capen-Showalter House, a historic home across Lake Osceola from the Polasek, was scheduled for demolition. Alarmed, a group of Winter Park ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� Polasek property? number of the pieces are conceptual. So the more you know about them, the more you appreciate them.” Heller, who says her involvement with the Alfond Collection has enhanced her own appreciation for contemporary art, enjoys discussing the pieces on display. Her scholarly yet accessible explanations evoke many “oh, now I get it” moments from viewers more comfortable with representational art. The hotel was designed with art displays in mind. “To create a focus on the artwork, we used a very neutral field of finishes, and special lighting was selected,” says Monte Olinger, an interior designer and principal at Baker Barrios Architects. From her home in Massachusetts, Barbara Alfond says the collection was conceived “to further the understanding of the hotel being a part of an educational institution.” She’s proud of the fact that classes in subjects other than art — including women’s studies — have used the collection to supplement the curriculum. Even prior to the Alfond infusion, the Cornell boasted the region’s only “encyclopedic” collection. For example, it’s the only museum in Central Florida to own works by Europe’s Old Masters. “But now,” Heller says, with more than a hint of satisfaction, “we also have the best contemporary art collection in town.” Like many museums, the Cornell is able to display only a tiny fraction of its 5,000-plus objects. Its holdings encompass more than 500 paintings, some dating from the 14th century; 1,600 prints, drawings and photographs; and thousands of artifacts and archaeological fragments from around the world. The museum’s on-campus facility is small relative to the size of its collection, and parking can be vexing (although the SunTrust parking garage on Lyman Avenue is only a five-minute walk away). Still, Heller notes that the museum has enjoyed a 50 percent increase in 34 LIVING IN WINTER PARK visitors, in part because admission is free, subsidized by Dale Montgomery, a 1960 Rollins graduate who majored in studio art. Museum attendance has also been bolstered by guests of the hotel. Each room has a rack card featuring directions to the museum, as well as instructions on how to take an audio tour of the hotel’s art using a mobile device. In addition, guided group tours of the Alfond collection are offered every Friday at 1 p.m., and “Happy Hour” tours are offered the first Wednesday of each month at 5:30 p.m. The tours — which are usually conducted by the Cornell’s in-house curator, Amy Galpin — are free of charge and no reservations are required. Many Happy Hour-tour attendees choose to remain at the hotel for a glass of wine or dinner at Hamilton’s Kitchen, its award-winning restaurant. Many others, their curiosity piqued, eventually make their way to the Cornell to see what’s on display there. It’s all very symbiotic and, to Heller, very heartening. “We’re always looking for ways to become a more integral part of Rollins and expand its boundaries in the community,” she says. “This partnership has allowed us to do both.” The Cornell’s Rollins location is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and weekends from 1 to 5 p.m. Tours are led every Saturday at 1 p.m. Call 407-646-2526 or visit rollins.edu/cfam for more information. THE ALBIN POLASEK MUSEUM & SCULPTURE GARDENS On the eastern shore of Lake Osceola and just a short walk from the Alfond Inn, the lushly landscaped grounds and breathtaking statuary of the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens combine to offer one of the most beautiful sights Winter Park has to offer. But what’s most remarkable about the Polasek isn’t its beauty. It’s the PHOTO BY WINTER PARK PICTURES


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