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Alfond contemporary-art collection debuts Sunday at hotel

Rollins College's new Alfond Inn brings a new art gallery to Winter Park — this one just happens to offer accommodations for the night.

The inn, which opens Sunday, was built with a $12.5 million grant from the Harold Alfond Foundation, and is a showcase for the Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art.

At a sneak peek on Tuesday, I talked with Ena Heller, the director of Rollins' Cornell Fine Arts Museum. She now has responsibility for the more than 100 pieces in the Alfond Collection, as well.

"It's all very exciting," Heller said. "The collection is all art of the moment. We didn't have any art of today of this caliber before."

At the hotel, the artwork hangs throughout public areas, including the lobby, bar, restaurant and other gathering spots. (Individual guest rooms contain photos taken at Rollins College.)

Heller is already working on ideas to create synergy between the Cornell and the Alfond. She's planning exhibits at the Cornell that provide a more in-depth look at the work of an artist featured at the hotel. Another idea: Tours of both the museum and the Alfond Collection.

"What we've accomplished is to expand the boundaries of the museum," she said.

The collection, which has not been exhibited elsewhere, contains paintings, photos and sculptures by more than 50 artists. Its message is right in tune with Rollins' emphasis on the liberal arts, Heller said.

"It raises questions of who we are, where we're going … and how we connect to others," she said.

It's not only the public who will benefit from the hotel. Rollins students will be eligible for the Alfond Scholars program, which gives scholarships funded by the hotel's proceeds. For more information on the Alfond Inn, at 300 E. New England Ave., Winter Park, call 407-998-8090 or go to TheAlfondInn.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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