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Lightning in a bottle

HARRIET HAMILTONsummit daily news
Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk
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FRISCO – When Frisco Historical Park museum coordinator Simone Belz was a little girl on school field trips, she loved visiting museums.”I’d always run to the first exhibit I saw – which was usually the mummies,” she said. “I loved it. I wanted to be part of it.”For Belz, the chance to run Frisco’s history museum is a dream come true. Born in Germany and raised in Colorado Springs, the 35-year-old moved to Summit County for the first time in 1998.”I’ve always been into the outdoors and skiing,” she said. “And I wanted to get away from the Front Range hubbub.” After getting her degree in fine arts history and museumology, Belz had worked in children’s museums in Boulder and the Springs, but never expected to be able to practice her profession in the High Country.”Having a museum job up here is like lightning in a bottle,” she said.For her first two-year stint in Summit County, Belz worked at the Columbine Gallery in Frisco. After moving to Boulder for two years, she and her husband resettled in Frisco nearly five years ago.Since then, up until two months ago, Belz worked as director of school-age programming for the school district’s Summit Day Camp.

“It was a fantastic job, but very challenging,” she said. “I was always trying to get back in the museum field, but in other places.”When the town of Frisco took over administration of its historic park this spring, a position for museum coordinator was created. It was the last thing Belz expected.”I’d always known the museum was here,” she said. “But who would leave this job? When I saw (the want ad) in the paper, I ran for it.”Belz joined Frisco town staff at the end of March as coordinator of operations at the historic park and liaison between the Frisco Historical Society, which formerly ran the park, and the town of Frisco.Her first challenge at the museum is to catalog the artifacts in the collection.”We have a tremendous number – a rough estimate of 4,500 objects – which range in condition from very, very poor to good.” she said. “Some things are in a database, but some are just on note cards.”Modernizing the museum’s methods of artifact preservation is also very high on Belz’s priority list.”Things have deteriorated already and are deteriorating right now,” she said. “This needs to be stopped and every day upkeep needs to be brought up to speed.”

Although this is her first experience working in a historical museum, Belz is committed to the mission of preservation.”I love storytelling,” she said. “It’s keeping the history and heritage of people alive. It’s important – so we don’t forget where we used to be.”Belz appreciates the Frisco museum for its informal atmosphere.”It’s not an old, stuffy museum,” she said. “Visitors walk into the environment. They don’t just peer through a glass.” Belz admitted that watching visitors get excited by a particular exhibit inspires her.Her vision for the future of the park includes maintaining and increasing its interactive qualities.”All museums have started incorporating interactive exhibits,” she said. “Because they have to capture those visitors.”When Belz talks about her life outside of work, she sounds equally enthusiastic. A self-described “foodie,” Belz enjoys going out to eat and cooking at home, especially Thai and Italian food. She and her husband, Wally Kruse, are also both intense movie buffs.

“I just like the movie experience,” she said. “Even when we rent movies, we turn the lights down, make popcorn and crank up the sound.”When she has the time, Belz tries to get outside to camp, hike, play disc golf and snowshoe.The challenge of her new job, though, gives Belz more than enough to do for the time being.”I think the possibilities here are endless,” she said. “There’s a wonderful foundation of a museum here, and it’s just a matter of improving on the existing operation.”Harriet Hamilton can be reached at (970) 668-4628, or at hhamilton@summitdaily.com


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