This is Iowa Museum Week and while most of Iowa’s 300 museums and galleries remain closed by the pandemic, we can still visit many of them online until their doors reopen.
Cindy Sweet, executive director of the Iowa Museum Association — based in Cedar Falls — says this would ordinarily be one of the busier weeks of the year for museums, but she’s still working to raise awareness in spite of COVID-19.
“Museums are essentially sister organizations with our public libraries,” Sweet says. “They provide educational resources and programs for all ages. They enrich our communities in many ways. They attract businesses. They attract people who want to live in our communities.”
There’s a key difference between museums and libraries, she notes, as museums rely on donors and don’t typically have local, state or federal funding through tax dollars. Sweet says museums serve an important purpose. “They play a really critical role in preserving the historical fabric, the natural resources, the identity and memory of our state,” Sweet says. “They’re really essential community anchor organizations and we, many times, take them for granted.”
Iowa Museum Week would typically be filled with open houses, special programming and invitations for visits from state and local officials. “Because that’s not possible this year, we’re having a Social Media Iowa Museum Week,” Sweet says. “We are highlighting the good work of so many of our Iowa museums on Facebook, on Twitter, on websites, and we’re trying to raise awareness the best we can.”
Museums are slowly reopening, she says, in order to continue offering safe experiences to the public. Iowa Museum Week runs through Sunday.
(Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City contributed to this report.)