Rachel Frisby, 2009
I’ve been working as a museum curator/programming director for the past four years in Winter Park, Florida, 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 in 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 three 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 four 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 … 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 coursework. 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 Facebook at 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