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GALLERY: Iowa Museums Week — Your local guide

  • Gwendolyn Barntsen, 6, and her brothers Conrad, 4, and Lute, 2, of Woodbury Minn., check out the glass displays during a weekday trip to the Floyd County Historical Museum with grandparents Doug and Lin Sinclair. Press photos by Kate Hayden

  • Sawyer Bottorff, 7, sits in an original country schoolhouse at the Old Bradford Pioneer Village in Nashua.

  • The Carrie Lane Chapman Catt Girlhood Home. File photo

  • The Carnegie Cultural Center in New Hampton.

  • Charles City Arts Center director Jacqueline Davidson pulls out a piece of the Arts Center’s permanent collection. Press photo by Kate Hayden

  • The Stockton House in Mason City. Press photo by Bob Steenson

  • Gwendolyn Barntsen, 7, points to a cowgirl costume on display at the Floyd County Historical Museum on Wednesday.

  • The Carrie Lane Chapman Catt Girlhood Home south of Charles City has been turned into a memorial and museum. Press photo by Bob Steenson.

  • A living room setup with a life-sized portrait of a Waterloo business owner at the Old Bradford Pioneer Village in Nashua.

  • Viewers take a photo of students' work during a reception at the Charles City Arts Center. Contributed photo

  • The Carnegie Cultural Center in New Hampton.

By Kate Hayden,

The massive antique tractors seemed especially immense next to the Barntsen siblings Gwendolyn, 6; Conrad, 4; and Lute, 2. The three kids from Woodbury, Minn. ducked among the Olivers and Hart-Parrs in the Floyd County Historical Museum on Wednesday as their grandparents Doug and Lin Sinclair, of Charles City, followed behind.

“When we can, we bring grandchildren here. It’s such a wonderful experience, even if we only get to stay an hour,” Lin said. “It’s not easy for grandparents to share history with their grandchildren, but here you can show them. Some of Doug’s dad’s trains are upstairs in the train display. It’s family history.”

Conrad pretended to honk a tractor’s horn. Doug’s camera clicked.

County museums like this one will enjoy a statewide spotlight next week after Gov. Kim Reynolds proclaimed June 11-17 as Iowa Museums Week, with support from the Iowa Museum Association. The governor’s proclamation tradition began in 2011 with just a day, IMA Executive Director Cynthia Sweet said.

“When folks think about their local museum, they don’t realize the holistic nature that museums have on their community,” Sweet said. “In many cases it’s a history museum, but it could be a children’s museum, a technology museum, a banking museum … They are serving as an informal educator in their communities.”

Recognizing Iowa museums means more than acknowledging their collections and programs, Sweet said — it also acknowledges hometown importance.

“They play an economic role also. We know that when businesses are looking to relocate to communities, they look for quality of life infrastructure. Museums are also employers and purchasers of goods and services,” Sweet said. “They’re an economic engine in bringing tourism to their communities. When people visit Iowa, they stop at historical sights.”

“The story of Iowa is incredibly rich …. That story is too important to lose,” Sweet said.

Next week: How county museums preserve local identity, June 16



Carrie Lane Chapman Catt Girlhood Home — 2379 Timber Avenue, Charles City.

Charles City Arts Center — 301 N Jackson Street, Charles City. Facebook: Charles City Arts Center

Fossil & Prairie Center — 1227 215th Street, Rockford.

Floyd County Historical Museum — 500 Gilbert Street, Charles City.

Mooney Collection — The Charles City Public Library, 106 Milwaukee Mall, Charles City.


Borlaug Learning Center — 3327 290th Street, Nashua.

Carnegie Cultural Center — 7 N Water Avenue, New Hampton.

Old Bradford Pioneer Village — Highway 346, one mile east of Nashua.

Plum Creek Art Center — 115 W Main Street, Fredericksburg.

Twin Ponds Nature Center — 1811 240th Street, Ionia.


The Music Man Square — Mason City. Information on Meredith Willson attractions available at

The Stockman House by Frank Lloyd Wright — Mason City. Information at

The Grout Museum District — Waterloo. Information on the veterans museum, history and science museum, children’s Imaginarium and more at

Waterloo Center for the Arts — Waterloo. Information at

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