New director coming to Freeport Arts Center

FREEPORT—Jennifer Kirker will become the executive director of Freeport Arts Center starting the middle of May. She is moving from the Dallas, Texas, area, where she was the director of Education at the Trammell and Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art. There, she directed a staff of seven and oversaw 30 docent volunteers. In addition to being responsible for creating and developing educational programming, she coordinated lectures, workshops and large festivals such as “Discover India” and “Chinese New Year.” Each event attracted more than 2,500 visitors and helped raise the visibility and attendance at the museum by 35 percent.

Kirker’s prior museum experience was with the Farmers Branch Historical Park in Dallas, where she was the museum educator. Here, she created curriculum-based educational programs for schools, wrote the quarterly newsletter, created marketing material and was responsible for cataloging, recording and conserving archaeological materials. She established events such as the annual Archaeology Fair and Texas History Day, each attracting 1,500 visitors annually. Kirker has demonstrated her ability to seek out sponsorships and has been successful in grant writing.

Kirker grew up in Michigan, obtained a B.A. in cultural anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a M.A. in Anthropology at Pennsylvania State University. She was an instructor of anthropology at both Pennsylvania State and Brookhaven College in Dallas. For a number of summers, Kirker directed field activity at digs in Guatemala, Belize and Mexico.

The Director Search attracted applicants from West Virginia, Texas, Indiana and Illinois. Their primary attraction to the Freeport Arts Center was both the size and scope of its collection. All of them looked the Arts Center up on the Internet, and were able to view photos of art and the museum.

The challenge is to increase the awareness of this treasure by Freeport and the greater community.

Established in 1975, the Freeport Arts Center shares the visual and performing arts with the people of northwest Illinois. FAC’s mission is to educate through arts programming, collect, preserve and exhibit art, support performing arts and fund cultural activities. Currently, FAC’s collection contains nearly 4,000 artifacts from all continents and all time periods including: antiquities from Egypt, Greece and Rome; ethnographic objects from Africa, Southeast Asia, and Papua New Guinea; Pre-Columbian and Native American baskets and pottery; excellent 15th- to 19th-century European painting, prints and sculpture; and a significant collection of contemporary American prints, paintings, and sculpture. The Freeport Arts Center is partially supported by the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

The Freeport Arts Center is at 121 N. Harlem Ave., and is open Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Tours may be scheduled by calling 815-235-9755 or e-mailing: For more information, visit, .

From the April 19-25, 2006, issue

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