Florida Tech’s Funk Textile Center Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Permanent Collection, Attendance Have Grown Steadily Since 2009           

MELBOURNE, FLA. — Florida Tech’s Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts marks its 10th anniversary this month as the unique museum’s growing permanent collection and creative exhibitions continue to solidify its position as a major cultural attraction on the Space Coast and beyond.

The Funk Center opened on Aug. 29, 2009, on the Florida Tech campus. Housed in a building designed by Melbourne architect Craig Suman, it almost instantly began connecting visitors to the communicative power of textiles.

The center’s benefactor and namesake, Ruth Funk, was a lifelong artist and educator and member of the Florida Tech Board of Trustees. She passed away in 2015, but her passion for spreading awareness of the diversity, beauty and relevance of textiles continues through the educational role of the museum.

Over the last decade, the Funk Center has welcomed over 50,000 patrons to its more than 30 exhibits, including “The Little Black Dress,” “Modern Twist: Contemporary Japanese Bamboo Art,” and “Redress: Upcycled Style by Nancy Judd.” Nearly 250 contemporary fiber artists from Florida, the United States and around the world have presented their works.

“Located between Evans Library and the Gordon and Joy Patterson Botanical Garden, we provide a creative oasis on campus – but our reach has grown within the community,” said Carla Funk, founding director and current executive director and chief curator of university museums, noting the educational partnerships the center has developed with area schools and arts organizations since its opening.

“I’m most proud of the Funk Center staff who have raised the profile of Florida Tech through impactful presentations to state and national organizations such as the Florida Association of Museums and the Association of Academic Museums and Galleries,” Funk added. “Our diverse exhibitions have evolved over the years and, as our staff has grown from two people to six, we have been able to create more immersive and interactive gallery experiences.”  

The Funk Center’s permanent collection has grown to over 1,600 objects from five continents that represent over 500 years of history. Strengths of the collection include Japanese kimono, South African beadwork, Central Asian embroidery and Panamanian clothing called molas.

The Funk Center will be celebrating its 10th anniversary over the next year with a variety of special programs and events. For more information on free exhibitions, museum hours and ways to help support the Funk Center and its endowment, please visit https://textiles.fit.edu/.


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