Nelson Pioneer Farm’s Director Busy Building For The Future

Margaret Spiegel

Margaret Spiegel

Oskaloosa, Iowa – The ol’ wives tale of April showers bring May flowers says, things begin to bloom.

At Nelson Pioneer Farm, May brought opening day and a chance for Margaret Spiegel to bloom as the director for the museum and farm.

Spiegel is the curator and administrator of the farm and museum, which is part of the Mahaska County Historical Society.

Spiegel comes to Oskaloosa from West Central Illinois, where her family has a farm. “The last year I’ve been working in Leadville, Colorado.”

Spiegel describes herself as “a history nerd when most kids wanted to be Indiana Jones.”

“So coming back to a pioneer farm is a dream come true. It was a career goal for a while that fell off the burner; now it’s back,” added Spiegel.

“I got into the museums when I was at Knox College, an undergrad, I took a museums, monuments, and memories class and learned a different path to study history rather than just academic research or teaching at the college level,” said Spiegel. “I realize that the creative application of history and having personal interactions with people and learning why they care about history and what gets them excited was something I was much more passionate about than doing research in an archive.”

“So from there I did a lot of internships and explored different facets of the museum world and realized I love the education side of it. Not only with school kids but just all different age levels. So after undergrad, I took a couple of years off, did some internships, paid some bills, got some jobs and then I went to graduate school at University of Wisconsin In Milwaukee. I have a masters degree in History with a specialization in public history, and I also earned a Museums Studies certificate as part of that program. So history has always been something I’ve loved and didn’t realize it was a viable career option until that class my sophomore year of undergrad,” said Spiegel.

Spiegel arrived in Oskaloosa on March 11th and started working at Nelson Pioneer Farm on March 19th.

“This site has a lot of potential. Kelly left a really good legacy and programs. So I’m excited to build on that legacy,” said Spiegel. “It’s also a lot of potential for me to flex some professional muscles I haven’t flexed before. So in a director role, being more on the administrative side of it, drafting policies, making sure that the foundation is laid for long-term success as a nonprofit museum,” added Spiegel.

Spiegel said the board has been “incredibly supportive” and receptive to new ideas and thinking. “We’re having some productive conversations.”

The opening day, Nelson Pioneer blossomed into 2018 with 25 visitors to the farm and museum. “I was pleased to have that turnout,” added Spiegel.

With the legacy left behind by the former director, Spiegel isn’t planning many changes, keeping those annual events in place.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to expand the offerings, but I need to be able to find my feet first,” said Spiegel.

Spiegel hopes to get her feet wet this year by solidifying those policies to help steer the museum and farm into the future as well as renovating exhibits.

“I’m excited. Oskaloosa has been great, they’ve been nothing but welcoming. I’m trying to get involved with the community. I’ve joined a few groups already and am attending service club meetings to see if there’s any more I wanna join,” Spiegel said.

Nelson Pioneer Farm is open 10:00 am – 4:00 pm Tuesday thru Saturday, and 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm Sunday. The facility is closed on Mondays.

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Posted by on May 11 2018. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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