Jasper County Historical Museum opens for the season with familiar programs

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Apr. 30—History class is back in session.

Jasper County Historical Museum is opening for the season 1 p.m. May 1, giving residents free entry to explore the Newton facility and all its displays. In addition to opening its doors to local and out-of-county visitors, the museum is bringing back its Brown Bag Lunch-and-Learn every second Wednesday of the month.

Ken Barthelman, executive director of the museum, said the Brown Bag Lunch-and Learn events have not been held since the start of the pandemic. Guests are encouraged to bring their own lunch or devote their lunch hour to learning about something new each month, typically related to Jasper County history.

Although many of the Brown Bag Lunch-and-Learns will be centered around history, some speakers will offer more community-style learning. For instance, the first lunch on May 11 will feature a presenter from Earl May Lawn & Garden. In the past, significant historical projects were the subjects of choice.

"It's nice to bring some regular people up to the museum almost every month," Barthelman said. "You get people you haven't seen ever or for awhile, at least."

Museum staff are expecting to see more unfamiliar faces this season, too. Due to the successful turnouts from the Tree-mendous Christmas Extravaganza last year, Barthelman would not be surprised to see those same guests return to view the museum without all the Christmas trees and old school decorations.

"We all heard constant comments from people who were looking at the Christmas trees about the stuff behind the Christmas trees," Barthelman said. "They had no idea what was here. So I think we'll get some of those people back. And we're going to do the Christmas deal again this year, too."

Every year the museum creates a temporary exhibit on a local sport. In the past, museum board member Dave Rorabaugh displayed artifacts and information about the county's golf history. This year, Rorabaugh has created an exhibit recognizing football teams in the area.

"He'll have some of the first place state trophies and some of those things on display, along with a lot of old helmets which are kind of cool," Barthelman said.

Sometime this season Barthelman will unveil an early history of Maytag, which he conceded is scattered in some areas of the museum already. This information will be focused into one area and will key in on four past presidents of the company: F.L. Maytag, E.H. Maytag, L.B. Maytag and Frederick Louis Maytag II.

"Everybody thinks one person did everything, but that's not the case," he said. "But it should be ready very shortly after we open."

Volunteer docents are available for guests, though there is an emphasis on self-guided tours. The museum received a small grant from Jasper County GEMS that will enable staff to cover costs of local historian Larry Hurto's more detailed tours on selected dates, which will be announced later in the season.

All residents of Jasper County can tour the museum at no cost. Out-of-county adults are charged $10 to enter. The museum will be open at 1 p.m. daily.

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com