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Funke honored for museum work

In any town, it is exciting to get recognition. In our town, we have lots of talented people who are often recognized for their literary, artistic and musical achievements. This week, I would like to announce the recent achievements, of University of Mississippi Museum Collections Manager, Marti Funke.

Last month, the Southeastern Museums Conference (SEMC) announced their award recipients for this year, and Marti Funke was granted the Emerging Museum Professionals Award.

According to SEMC, this award was initiated in 2007 to recognize emerging professionals who have demonstrated excellence and leadership in museum activities at their institutions and within the museum profession as a whole. Funke traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina this past week to receive her award at the SEMC annual meeting and awards luncheon.

On Friday, I got to sit down and talk with Funke about her training, career, and the recognition she has received.

She originally began college at the University of Kansas as an art major focusing on ceramics. Due to issues with scheduling studio classes, she focused on art history classes and discovered a new passion. Having a chance to study abroad at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, she took a semester course in Museum Studies. This experience led to further studies and a summer internship at the Museum of World Treasures in Witchita, Kansas where she got to clean a T-Rex skeleton.

After graduating with a History Degree and a minor in Art History, she embarked on her Master’s degree of Museum Studies also at the University of Kansas. During this time, she interned for one semester at Wichita State’s Ulrich Museum of Contemporary Art where she served as assistant curator. After graduating with an MA in Museum Studies, she worked for one year at the Wichita Art Museum as an Assistant Registrar.

In 2011, Funke arrived in Oxford to work at the University Museum.  According to museum director  Robert Saarnio, “The University Museum is exceptionally proud of this significant honor being accorded to our colleague Marti Funke, by our regional museum association. By far the most meaningful museum awards and recognitions are those that come from one’s peer museum community, so it’s particularly notable that Marti is identified as this year’s Emerging Museum Professional by her peers from within an entire 12-state region. Marti embodies the best of the museum profession, and she also exemplifies the entire Museum team in our staff’s high levels of professionalism, skill, and dedication.”

In addition to coordinating all exhibits, Funke works on deeds of gifts, categorizing the vast collection, minor conservation work, makes artist contracts, coordinates shipping schedules and selects frames and paint colors for the galleries. Despite a large list of responsibilities, she seamlessly transforms each gallery to best suit the current shows. When asked what she is most excited about for the museum in the future, Funke, says she is looking forward to having the complete catalogue of their William Eggleston photograph collection finished in 2017.

With all that she has accomplished, our town has many reasons to be proud of the University Museum.

ANDI BEDSWORTH is owner of Art To Go, which brings free art opportunities to children in the community.