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New museum curator excited to bring east Idaho’s past to light

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IDAHO FALLS – The Museum of Idaho has a new curator.

The museum’s leadership tapped Kristina Frandson from a group of over 40 applicants to take over the role. Frandson will now put her archaeology skills and experience to work in furthering the museum’s mission to bring the world to Idaho and Idaho to the world.

Frandson’s new curator job is the latest step on a career journey that began at a young age.

“I’ve wanted to do archaeology since fourth grade,” Frandson told EastIdahoNews.com. “I remember we were talking in class about archaeology, and the teacher was like, ‘Archaeology is so boring, all they do is sit in the ground with a dustpan and a brush and try to uncover all the stuff that’s in the dirt.’ And I was like, ‘That’s amazing! I wanna do that.’ I really liked that you could continue to learn about people even after they are gone.”

Frandson’s passion for archaeology led her to earn a bachelor’s degree in anthropology with a double major in classics from Franciscan University in Ohio. While there, she got her first taste of curating.

“I was able to do this really cool project on their ancient Greek and Roman coin collection,” Frandson said. “They had 81 coins that had been left to them by a friar who donated them to the university, and nobody had done anything with them. So for my thesis project, I got to catalog them and preserve them, which was awesome because the coins had been kept in these really old, gross binders with terrible tape that was leaving residue all over them.”

After receiving her bachelor’s, Frandson attended the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. She completed a master’s degree in human osteoarchaeology, a discipline that involves studying human remains in an archaeological context and analyzing the possible diseases and injuries that may have contributed to the death of an individual.

After working in Scotland for a year and a half, Frandson returned to Idaho, eventually landing a job at the Museum of Idaho managing the Wasden Archaeological Collection. This job put her in charge of cataloging and organizing over 80,000 artifacts that had been extracted from the Wasden-Croft Archaeological Preserve in the Arco Desert west of Idaho Falls. When former Museum of Idaho Curator Carrie Athay moved on to the Idaho Falls Symphony, she encouraged Frandson to apply for the position.

Now Frandson finds herself with an exciting and challenging opportunity to continue bringing east Idaho’s past to light.

moi good day sunshine
The Museum of Idaho in Idaho Falls. | Adam Forsgren, EastIdahoNews.com

“Right now, my job entails still working on the Wasden Collection, which is awesome because I really didn’t want to leave that project behind,” said Frandson. “I’m also trying to manage research inquiries into the archives at the museum.”

She’s expanding what’s available at the museum too.

“The job also involves acquiring new objects for our collections,” she added. “People are always finding really cool things in their attics or in their parents’ attics or at garage sales. We get calls that are like ‘Hi, I found this really amazing thing. Do you want it?’ So it’s my job to see if it ties into the mission of the museum and into the story we’re trying to tell regarding east Idaho.”

Frandson has also been doing a lot of interacting with visitors.

“Part of what I’ve been doing recently is helping with tours around the museum,” she said. “I also was able to give a presentation at the Museum Club, and I was able to present about the Wasden Collection. That was really cool.”

Frandson hasn’t been on the job for long, but she’s excited about what the future holds, both for her personally as well as the mission of unearthing east Idaho’s ancient past.

“I’m excited to see what I can bring to the table because I know that every person who fills in a new position has something new to bring to it,” she said. “I know my background is different from everyone who has held the curator position before me, and I can’t wait to have this opportunity to contribute to the museum and help it continue to grow and become a better museum.”

For more information about events and exhibits at the Museum of Idaho, visit its website or Facebook page.

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