NORWICH, N.Y. – A passion for the arts, museums, and storytelling has guided the personal mission of the new operations manager at the Chenango County Historical Society (CCHS).
Joseph Fryc joined CCHS on Oct. 1. He was born and raised in New York Mills, located on the outskirts of Utica. From a young age, Fryc has held an appreciation for the arts and storytelling. Fryc would frequent the Munson Williams Proctor Art Institute in Utica and the Farmer’s Museum in Cooperstown. Often, he would find himself imagining that he was being transported into the world of the artwork, or sent back in time to days long past.
“Some of my fondest memories are of times I sat listening to older relatives speak about their life experiences, particularly when my grandfather would say what little he could about his work with the U.S. government. I enjoyed trying to feel as if I was present when the stories themselves were being written,” Fryc said.
His love of working in museums kicked off during his time working at the Edith Langley Barrett Fine Arts Gallery located at Utica College. He found that many guests there expressed some hesitation toward visiting the gallery, as well as other institutions, citing that they felt intimidated due to a lack of previous experience with artwork. In response, Fryc adapted his tour style in order to make the artwork feel more accessible to the guest by providing as much background and context about the artists as possible. Often, this meant speaking directly with the artist to get personal stories related to their works and processes. In this way, understanding the artwork became more akin to speaking with a friend rather than simply looking at an object.
“I believe that frequenting museums and cultural institutions can really provide a ton of value to everyone. I think we can better understand each other and the world around us by exposing ourselves to the unique stories and perspectives of others, and in this way we can adapt and evolve our own perspectives. I’ve met so many fascinating people over my life thus far, each with such great stories to tell. Most times, I find myself walking away from these interactions feeling like their stories have become a part of me in a way,” Fryc said.
This fascination with the stories of others is rooted in a belief that each day brings an opportunity to learn something new. Fryc said he lives his life by the tried and true philosophy that one should never stop learning, and the pursuit of knowledge is never complete. From these daily learning experiences, he said he feels he can harvest information to better evolve his own abilities in aiding others to create their own connections with art, objects, and history.
Joseph earned a B.A. in psychology and a B.S. in management with a concentration in marketing from Utica College, and he is currently pursuing a master’s degree in museum studies from SUNY Buffalo State.
Prior to joining CCHS, Fryc most recently served as visitor experience manager at the Utica Children’s Museum. Throughout his career, he has held positions at a number of fine arts institutions and museums in Buffalo and Utica.
“I’m looking forward to getting to know more about Chenango County,” Fryc said. “I’m excited to learn about all the secrets and unique stories that CCHS and the surrounding area have to offer, and helping to make these stories accessible to as many people as possible.”
Fryc resides in Norwich, and enjoys camping, hiking, photography, and creating digital and analog collage art.