Contact: Dr. Heidi Lung, President
Iowa Museum Association
[email protected]

Iowa Museum Association Expands Staff and Programs

Beginning September 1st, the Iowa Museum Association (IMA) will expand staffing to include a full time Executive Director.  Cynthia Sweet, who has served as part time Executive Director since 2007, will continue to serve, now in a full-time role.  

Dr. Heidi Lung, President, Iowa Museum Association said, “As an organization, we have been moving toward this moment for a long time.  Over the past five years the IMA has expanded its programs and industry support considerably, so this was a logical next step in the organization’s growth.”
The Iowa Museum Association has served the museum community since 1976.  Sweet became the Executive Director of the Iowa Museum Association in September 2007.

The IMA fills an important role in the state by providing a centralized office through which Iowa museum professionals and volunteers may make connections, find professional development, and communicate and collaborate with colleagues.  The IMA provides a statewide communication network, professional development, advocacy, and member engagement opportunities.   The Iowa Museum Association serves staff, volunteers, board members, student interns, and others interested in museums in Iowa.

Sweet said, “Although there are different types and sizes of museums, they have key features in common, so IMA’s learning opportunities are applicable to all museums.  Museums are collecting organizations with education at the heart of their mission.  They are stewards of their collection, holding the collection – whether art, history, animals, seeds, airplanes, or other – in trust for the public, for generations to come.  They use their collections to provide educational programming for all ages, through exhibits, publications, presentations, tours, lesson plans, and more.”

The Iowa Museum Association’s programming includes both practical and inspirational topics, and opportunities for working toward best practices in museum work.  The IMA has recently expanded its educational programming related to best practices with the development of STEPS-IMA.  Utilizing an instructional model developed by the American Association for State and Local History, STEPS-IMA moves organizations along a path to best practices through a cohort-based learning group and online-modules.  The next cohort will begin in January 2022.   

Inspirational keynotes and plenary sessions are always part of the IMA’s annual conference.  On October 4, 2021, Laura Lott, CEO of the American Alliance of Museums, will kick off the IMA’s 2021 virtual conference with an inspirational keynote on the theme “Museums Matter.”  Conference sessions October 4-5 will convey both practical and aspirational ideas for community relevance and engagement.

Practical, implementable ideas are shared through the IMA’s annual workshop series and informal learning opportunities.  In 2021, the IMA expanded informal learning opportunities to include IMA Plugged-In, a free lunch time learning opportunity offered the third Monday of each month, and Friday Colleague Conversations, an opportunity to ask questions and learn from peers.

Sweet noted, “The IMA has seen steady growth in membership and corporate support over the past few years.  As a result, we were able to invest in developing programming for the benefit of those who work and volunteer in Iowa museums.  We have been fortunate to have the support of three key strategic partners over the past decade – partners that understand the importance of a state association and what it brings to the state and its industry.  Jester Insurance, Edwards Creative, and the Museum Studies program at the University of Iowa have all supported the IMA’s growth and development in many ways.”
Dr. Lung concluded, “The many opportunities IMA provides for professional growth benefit individuals who in turn raise the level of professionalism in their organizations.  Organizations that function at a higher level are better able to serve their community through educational partnership, attracting tourism, and serving as community anchor organizations.  The training and support that the Iowa Museum Association provides underpins an increasingly strong and vibrant Iowa museum industry.”  

For more information contact [email protected] or 319.239.2236.