College-Museum Partnership Offers Opportunities for Students

Florida Southern College plans to offer new opportunities for students to get acquainted with visual art careers through a proposed partnership with the Polk Museum of Art to form an academic museum.

While alumni have offered support for an FSC academic museum before, the idea never gained traction because of the close proximity between the college and the museum, according to Dr. Anne Kerr, FSC’s president. This time the idea took off when the Polk Museum’s board members initiated talks of a partnership as a way to help the museum grow, Museum Director Claire Orologas said.

The cross pollination between the institutions should lead to more internship opportunities and push the faculty to make better use of museum resources, Kerr said.

Students are pleased. “There are different facets to the art world and I think if I would have had that museum connection at FSC, it would have helped create more career paths,” senior Studio Art major Rikki Mowry said.

The art department at the college has incorporated the museum into its Studio Art, Art History and Art Education curriculums in the past by visiting exhibitions and having their teachers explain the artists and their work.

Mowry explains that with this partnership students like herself will be able to learn real-world museum etiquette, how to present portfolios, and how to take criticism and appreciate art by possibly having their own art featured at the museum.

“We’re all really excited,” said sophomore Art History and Studio Art major Marielle Martinez. “It will be a great asset and really shows what the school can do for you by using an outside source.”

The partnership is an opportunity for the school to stand out from other universities around Florida or even around the country with the resources it will be able to provide the students, Martinez said.

“This will be such a positive impact on prospective students because it takes engaged learning to a whole new level and will be able to give us real-world experience,” Martinez said.

The boards of both Florida Southern College and the Polk Museum of Art have endorsed the partnership in concept and are scheduled to vote on a written agreement in time to begin implementing it in June, in preparation for the 2017-2018 school year.

“This is a unique opportunity and a good partnership to pursue because there is leadership at each place,” Kerr said. “We have grand ideas set out and can’t wait to implement them.”