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Take 5 with Kim Zelinski
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Take 5 with Kim Zelinski
By Katie Land, news editor

Composed of a diverse array of faculty, staff and administrators, the Oakland University community is unique, creative, and dedicated. As part of a continuing effort to explore the various roles and lives of our Golden Grizzlies, the News @ OU website presents a new interview series. We invite you to share these stories and “Take 5” with OU.  

“Take 5 with Kim Zelinski” 

Kim Zelinski is the director of Museum Operations and Advancement for Meadow Brook Hall. She has played several roles at The Hall since she first entered its gates in 1980. Kim cultivated the grounds as a horticulturist, then took wider reign as the facility operations manager, followed by her current position which oversees a variety of areas. Kim supervises facility operations and capital improvements including building and grounds maintenance and preservation projects, manages curatorial affairs by managing and interpreting the Hall’s collections, assists with publishing and works to fundraise. Kim currently lives in Clarkston with her husband Tom and two cats, Daisy and Rusty.

1) What is it like to work at The Hall? Has anything changed since receiving the National Historic Landmark Designation?

Not a day goes by that I don’t remind myself that this was a home. A family lived here once. The craftsmanship, architecture and art is so incredible. I can walk into a room and see things that I had never noticed before, it still surprises me. Everyone here is pretty passionate and I am personally very attached to The Hall. I still worry at night, wondering if The Hall will be ok.

Since receiving the national landmark designation, I have seen an increase in community awareness. We have had a great outpouring of support and beautiful letters of acknowledgement from the community. I hope that the designation will raise our status when we apply for grants down the road. It’s exciting to be in the company of these great landmarks.

2) What are your favorite movies? 

I love all science fiction and tech and fantasy movies. From Lord of the Rings and Avatar to Star Wars, I love them all. I’ve actually been able to be on set at some of the movies they’ve filmed at MBH. It makes me look at movies differently, with a new appreciation for the work that goes into it. When Transformers 3 was here, there was an intense filming schedule, and I was impressed by what it takes for the crew to be set, from the light and sound guys to the camera guys and directors. 

3) If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I would go to England to visit all the manor homes that The Hall was inspired by, especially Haddon Hall, which was the basis for our gardens. 

4) How do you spend your free time?

I like to golf. When my sons grew up and left the nest, I started to golf again, and they play with me now too. Ryan and Chad are my twin boys who both graduated from Oakland, and are always very patient with me when we play. The four of us – my husband, sons and I – like to try out new courses across the state. I also have a passion for gardening, so I like to spend Saturday mornings in my gardens at home.

5) Why is it important to preserve and maintain buildings such as MBH?

I think this historic property allows us a lot to learn about history, architecture, art, landscape and the type of fine craftsmanship that we don’t have the skills to create anymore. It is a great honor to be recognized as the finest example of Tudor architecture in the country.

There is great social history here too, in the era of grand estates, many didn’t survive. It is fascinating to hear the stories of how the family lived on the estate.  Matilda inherited great wealth and she used that wealth to create a lasting legacy that would benefit thousands of people, Meadow Brook Hall and Oakland University.  There is a great story of philanthropy in this.





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