Serving Iowa's Museums Since 1976
The Iowa Museum Association was founded in 1976 as a volunteer-run organization serving the staff, board members, and volunteers of Iowa museums. The founders were Lynnette Pohlman, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames; Richard Leet, Charles H. MacNider Museum, Mason City; Clarence Alling, Waterloo Center for the Arts, Waterloo; Peggy Patrick, Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines; and Renee ---, Science Center, Des Moines. For the next 28 years, volunteers from across the state provided workshops, seminars, and annual meetings to provide professional education opportunities in Iowa.
In 2003, IMA hired its first Executive Director to make the organization more responsive to the needs of museums across the state and to provide leadership in educating the general public, community leaders, and other decision-makers about the importance of museums and the contributions they make to the cultural life of all Iowans. Jennie Bailey, Des Moines, was hired as the organization’s first Executive Director and served in that capacity until 2007. Under her leadership the organization's structure took shape and mission based activities were implemented.
Cynthia Sweet became the second Executive Director of the Iowa Museum Association in September 2007, and became the organization's first official employee the following January. Since 2007 membership in the IMA has grown by 60%, organizational procedures have been codified, and member services have increased.
The IMA fills an important role in the state by providing a centralized office through which IMA members may make connections with experts, attend affordable training, and communicate with other museum workers statewide. The IMA provides, through its website, news of interest and importance to the broad museum community including current events, funding information, member events, and more. The IMA is the only statewide agency offering an annual opportunity for college and university students to meet with museum staff members to explore internship opportunities. The IMA is the only statewide agency that maintains a jobs center on its website where museums may post openings for paid jobs and internships as well as volunteer internship openings.
The Iowa Museum Association serves museum staff, volunteers, board members, student interns, and anyone interested in museums across the state of Iowa.
Iowa’s museums include art centers and museums, botanical gardens, children's museums, historic sites, historical societies, living history sites, nature centers, natural history museums, planetariums, science and technology centers, and zoos.
The Iowa Museum Association is distinctive from the Iowa Arts Council and Department of Cultural Affairs. The IMA is not a division of or dependent upon any local, county, or state government nor does it regularly receive funds from government sources. The IMA is a private, non-profit organization that is supported by memberships, donations, earned income and grants.