Rachel Frisby, 2009

Curator, Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens

I’ve been working as a museum Curator/Programming Director for the past 4 years in Winter Park, FL, just outside Orlando.  I work at a wonderful historic home and sculpture gardens; the home of Albin Polasek, a world-renown Czech/American sculptor.  He’s the sculptor of the Woodrow Wilson monument in Prague, and created much of the public sculpture in Chicago, where he taught at the Art Institute of Chicago for 30 years as the head of their sculpture department.  We have the largest collection of Polasek sculpture in the world, and are the ONLY historic Artist Home and STUDIO in the state of Florida; 1 of only 36 in the country part of the National Trust’s Historic Artists Homes and Studios Consortium.  Our grounds are lovely, located right on Lake Osceola. We have become known as a Mecca for classical sculpture as well as our story of inspiration!  We recently made national news by successfully saving and fundraising to preserve the historic Capen House, built 1885, and relocate, by barge, to our property.  The last two years, I have spent renovating our sculpture gardens; relocating 17 sculptures, upgrading ADA facility requirements and re-envisioning our thematic approach.  My goal is to let the sculpture speak.

My job consists of creating temporary exhibitions for our Polasek Gallery, a space that I change out every 3 months with exciting contemporary and historic collections. I plan all the programming out for two years, including exhibitions. I am charged with the care of an outdoor collection, which keeps me very busy with preventive conservation, as well as the care of 4 historic buildings on our campus, and the care of our indoor decorative art collection as well. 

I love my job because it’s always something different from day-to-day.  I could be visiting a collector's home, judging an art festival, waxing a giant bronze sculpture, preparing an educational event, writing interpretive text, or giving a curatorial tour. This place keeps me on my toes and it can be exhausting, but it’s incredibly rewarding to use my degree and to see how much positive change I have accomplished in just a few years.  Small institutions are great, because you can implement change quickly and actually get to achieve goals and ideas relatively fast.   The highlight of my career here, thus far, was giving a behind-the-scenes tour of the Museum to a delegation from the Czech Republic and meeting their Deputy Prime Minster.  It was very special to share the collection and home of Albin Polasek with his fellow countrymen.

I use every class from KU Muse program…it’s my basis for ethics with collections, board relations, conservation, registration methods and exhibition design.  I am always the advocate for the collection and I have to fight for every collection/conservation related project.  I am able to be passionate about what we need and insist upon it, because of the classes from KU and understanding museum standards. If I had to give advice to up-and-coming Muse students I would strongly urge them to take practical courses that they will use, rather than more history or art course work.  I WISH I would have taken grant writing courses, website design, fundraising, and Adobe Design classes.  Those would have helped me so much more than say Renaissance history, even though those are great classes. Stress and learn social media, social media, and social media.

Go JAYHAWKS!!!! And Orlando STRONG!!!! :)

Check us out on FB https://www.facebook.com/PolasekMuseum/  You can see all my newest exhibitions and events.

The Albin Polasek Museum & Scuplture Gardens is located at:
633 Osceola Avenue
Winter Park, Florida 32789

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Museum Events

German-American History Talk and Gallery Tour
Saturday, October 21 | 2 p.m.-3:30 p.m.
Watkins Museum of History, 1047 Massachusetts St.
Prof. William Keel of KU speaks on local German-American history, then we move to the third floor for a special tour of our new exhibit Community and Culture: The Lawrence Turnverein, with Watkins curator Brittany Keegan and Dr. Lorie Vanchena of KU.

My Name is Sallie Performance
October 25-26 | 7 p.m.-8 p.m.
Spencer Museum of Art, Gallery 317, Sam & Connie Perkins Central Court
This experimental, immersive musical theater experience tells the story of the founding gift of art to the University of Kansas that became the Spencer Museum of Art. Created by Spencer Archivist Robert Hickerson and featuring the talents of artists and students from across the community. The performance is a free special preview event and part of the centennial celebration of our collection. Tickets are available through Eventbrite https://www.eventbrite.com/e/my-name-is-sallie-tickets-37725266287.

Science of the Macabre
Thursday, October 26 | 7 p.m.-9 p.m.
KU Natural History Museum, 1345 Jayhawk Blvd. 
Join us for a spooky night in the KU Natural History Museum as we celebrate Halloween. From spiders and snakes to parasites, we will explore the science of the creepy things that go bump in the night. See museum specimens, explore blood under black light, and enjoy free refreshments and win prizes.

Stories from the Museum Archives: Sallie Casey Thayer Collects
Sunday, November 5 | 2 p.m.-3 p.m.
Spencer Museum of Art, Rm 305, Stephen H. Goddard Study Center 
Spencer Museum archivist Robert Hickerson and student assistant Rose Wolf open up the archives for an exploration of primary resources that document the collection that initiated an art museum at KU. Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Civic Leader and Art Collector: Sallie Casey Thayer and an Art Museum for KU and the Museum’s centennial celebration of our collection.

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