Bruce & Frankee Muller purchased the Voss Inn Bed & Breakfast in May 1989, having spent 3 years living in Los Angeles, looking for the ideal place to have a bed & breakfast inn and to raise their family. They finally found it in Bozeman, Montana!
Bruce was born and raised in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe,) in Africa. He acquired a love of the great outdoors at an early age spending as much time as he could on his grandfather's ranch where there was abundant wild game. In 1979 Bruce joined the Rhodesian National Parks Department working in the field of wildlife management. In 1983, due to political instability within the Department, Bruce left Zimbabwe to work for a private photo safari company in the neighboring country of Botswana. For 3 years Bruce managed the Santawani Safari Lodge in the Okavango Delta region of Botswana. In October 1983 Bruce & Frankee met while she was on a photo safari with her family in Botswana. Bruce was their guide.
Frankee was born and raised in the Los Angeles area. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts and Masters degrees in Spanish from the University of Arizona and Middlebury College, respectively, after having studied in Spain for two years. After college she taught high school Spanish and world history for two years. Disillusioned with teaching, she got a job as assistant and translator to the head of the real estate department of a large L.A. law firm doing extensive business in Mexico. Seven years later, in October 1983, Frankee was offered the chance to travel with her family to Africa on a five-week photographic safari. She met Bruce on her second day in Africa-and that was all she wrote!
Bruce and Frankee attempted to keep up a long distance relationship for a few months. Bruce then visited Los Angeles in February 1984. Following that visit, Frankee resigned her job at the law firm and moved to Botswana to be with Bruce, taking over the catering and housekeeping for his camp. In 1986 they decided to return to the States to marry and start a family, hoping to open a bed and breakfast inn somewhere in the west. For more information about how Bruce & Frankee discovered Bozeman, Montana, please visit the Voss Inn website.
Bruce & Frankee have never lost their love for Africa. Incorporating Zimbabwean artwork and handicrafts into the decor of the Inn is one way for them to stay connected. The Voss Inn's collection of African art represents the combined efforts of Bruce, Frankee and their friend Jenny Preston, a well-known wildlife artist from Zimbabwe. It is their hope that by introducing people to the wealth of creative artistry in Zimbabwe, attention will be drawn to the plight of the impoverished people of that beautiful country. This is a true representation of their culture--their life's blood--and in many cases, their only means of support.
All of the African artwork and handicrafts at the Voss Inn have been personally selected--often commissioned--by Jenny. Each item has been individually crafted by Shona or Matabele artisans, such as Florence & Patience in the photo at the right. Under normal circumstances, they would sell these items to locals and tourists alike to make a living. Unfortunately, because of the current political and economic climate of the country, there are very few tourists and even the locals cannot afford to buy.
The love that Bruce, Frankee & Jenny have for Zimbabwe, its people and its wildlife has inspired them to share the country's art and handicrafts with Voss Inn guests and all of the people of the United States through this gift shop. Because of their connection to Zimbabwe, the artwork and handicrafts that are exhibited and sold here at the Voss Inn are all from Zimbabwe--with one exception. One of the textiles-- Kuba Cloth-- is made by the Kuba people of Zaire, formerly the Belgian Congo, who live between the Kasai and Sankuru Rivers in equatorial Africa.