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Community Notes: A crazy year at the Floyd County Museum

Jennifer C. Thiele, Director, Floyd County Historical Society and Museum

What a crazy year, with closures, reopening and partial closures. Even with everything being out of sorts the Floyd County Historical Museum has had a relatively great year to date.

Beginning in 2019, the museum began the process of upgrading the building’s heating and cooling system.

A generous grant from the Floyd County Community Foundation and the Matilda Andres Trust made it possible to replace the steam heating system with a modern heating and cooling system on all three floors. This will greatly help the museum continue to preserve and maintain historic artifacts and collections.

This past spring two wonderful women retired from the museum staff. Mary Ann Townsend and Elaine Mead had worked for the museum for a combined total of almost 55 years. They decided to end their years of dedication together not wanting to work without the other.

The Historical Society appreciates all that they have done for the museum and the community.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the museum had to temporarily close our doors to the public. Our visitors have been greatly missed.

While you have been gone, staff and board members have been busy revamping your museum experience. We have made some changes to exhibit areas, the gift shop and various programs.

Once everything has settled down with COVID-19 our new volunteer coordinator, Becky Meyer, is planning to host a volunteer orientation at the museum. This would provide any interested parties a tour of the facility with descriptions about different volunteer positions.

In the meantime, if you would like to know more please contact the museum and we will send you a volunteer packet.

The Historical Society has also been busy revamping the Kid’s Day program. We are so excited to announce our Kid’s Day, which was originally grades 1-3, is now our Junior Historians Program and it encompasses grades 1-12.

There will now be three levels to the education program.

Explorers – grades 1-4 – will learn about local and state history while completing fun activities.

Pioneers – grades 5-8 – participate in more hands-on activities and programs. At this level we want the children to be learning the importance of historic preservation. They will continue to learn about local history by learning different skills that would have been utilized by early settlers of Floyd County. They will also learn different skills that are used in the museum field.

The final level is our Homesteaders – grades 9-12. At this level, we want the children to be thinking of themselves as historians. They will get to assist with collections preservation, research and exhibit development.

Our plan is to have the kids research a topic, develop an exhibit concept, create the exhibit utilizing their research and museum artifacts and then present their findings to the public at a reception where they are the experts on that topic.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, Junior Historians will not be launched until next summer. During the summer months each level will have one Saturday a month. Please stay tuned for more information.

The Floyd County Historical Society and Museum is a non-profit organization. Community support such as volunteering and financial gifts help in our ability to interpret the local history and preserve our collections for future generations.

This year the museum has been awarded several grants from many wonderful organizations including two grants from Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs for operations and capacity, Hanson Foundation for the roof replacement, First Citizens Foundation for the roof replacement, Silos and Smokestacks for PPE material and website upgrades, the George W. and Hallene Hoskins Paul Foundation for operations and Community Revitalization Façade Improvement for chimney maintenance.

In addition to grants, we would like to thank all of our generous donors who contributed to our roof replacement and roof maintenance.

It might seem mundane but unfortunately roof replacements are one of those necessary evils. Roof leaks in the museum can jeopardize collections and create hazardous exhibit areas.

To date we have raised $57,125. This includes $49,300 in grants and $7,825 in community donations. If you have not donated please consider doing so. Your donation will help us reach our goal of $ 152,636. More importantly your donation will help us provide a safe environment for the artifacts entrusted into our care.

Looking towards the immediate future, the Historical Society has decided to cancel our annual meeting and dinner for this year. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 concerns we do not feel now is a good time to have our traditionally large get-together.

Typically this meeting is when new board members are introduced and officers are rotated. As 2020 has turned into the year that did not happen, the current board members and officers are willing to continue in their positions.

If anyone has any questions or would like to comment, please call the museum. Additionally, the 2020 and 2021 budget which is normally presented at the annual meeting will be available upon request after Sept. 17.

Want to stay up-to-date on the latest museum news? Consider becoming a member. An annual membership is $20 for an Individual and $40 for a family.

Membership benefits include free admission to the museum and programs, a Floyd County Heritage newsletter subscription and gift shop discounts. Museum memberships make great gifts and are a wonderful way to bring families to the museum.

If you have any questions about museum programs, volunteering or donating, please contact the the museum at 641-228-1099 or fchsccia@gmail.com.

Thank you and we hope to see everyone again real soon.

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