Thursday, February 24, 2011

The New Guy In Town

Up until this last September the Amana Heritage Museum has been running without a curator for a while. What is a curator exactly, you might ask. Well, it depends on the institution.  At the Amana Heritage Museum the curator is the person who processes and takes care of the artifacts, archives and photographs in its collections, creates exhibits, and takes care of the museum buildings. It’s a big job!  Not having a curator at the museum has meant a little more work for everyone here and that we have had a little pile up of new artifacts that had been donated to the museum, but we have been managing for the most part.

Luckily though the Amana Heritage Museum now has a new curator. His name is Zach Row-Heyveld. He’s Dutch. His family is from Pella, but we try not to give him to hard a time about that.

 Zach is originally from Peoria Illinois, and currently lives in Iowa City and drives into Amana three days a week. Zach walked into a big job, I hope he is not too overwhelmed. Right now he is working with our artifact collection, securing and bring up to date all of the storage for it. Zach has been doing everything from putting away artifacts, sorting artifacts to making padded hangers for our clothing collection. Before he came to work here in Amana he worked at the University of Iowa Natural History Museum doing exhibit design and maintenance. So we should be getting some great new exhibits at the Amana Heritage Museum in the near future.

I asked Zach if he had found any really interesting artifacts here at the museum as he is familiarizing himself with the collection. Like a true history buff Zach likes items that show how people of the past dealt with everyday problems that we still struggle with. He finds the clothing collection interesting, for it shows this kind of problem solving. He also found a collection of 1930s glass slides that were used in a class room. They are of images from all around the world. Zach finds it interesting to look back and see how places still familiar to us today looked back then.

I also ask Zach what his favorite thing about Amana is, being a fan of architecture he said the old houses, though Millstream Brewery is also pretty high on his list too.

Zach is a big asset to the museum. Each year the Amana Heritage Museum gets hundreds of items donated that need to be taken care of. The artifacts that you see on display are just a tiny percentage of what we have here. As Zach get to know our collection better, I’m sure that you will see some fun new exhibits here at the museum. So make sure that you come on by. Not to be bias, but I think it is the first stop you should make if you ever visit the Amana Colonies.

Working hard in My Town: Amana Colonies

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hot off the Press a New Amana Novel

Have you seen the new novels that have been written about Amana? Well if you haven’t you are a little behind because this month the third book in Judith Miller’s Daughters of Amana series is coming out. A Bond Never Broken is set in South Amana during the First World War.  For Ilsa Redlich, who helps her family run the South Amana hotel, the world as she knows it turns upside down with the coming of the war. This is a tale of intrigue, friendship and faith.
Judith Miller is a prolific writer of Christian historic fiction, mostly writing for Bethany House. Many of her novels have appeared on the CBA best seller list. Recently I interviewed Judith Miller about her choice of setting her new series in the Amana Colonies and what she loves about the Amana Colonies.

Why did you choose to write about Amana?
I am really drawn to setting. I liked the idea of community, and Amana being its own world that has its own history. I was really fascinated by the communal history. I also like that the community is so open, and is willing to share its history.

How did you learn about Amana?
I have a friend that is a quilter who comes to Amana for the quilt shops. She asked me if I had ever been and when I said that I hadn’t, but always wanted to, she suggested that I visit. That I might find stories there.

What do you like best about visiting modern Amana?
The bakery! We visit both of the bakeries when we are there. We also like visiting for the festivals. I really enjoyed the history play at the Amana Heritage Museum when we visited for Prelude to Christmas. We always take home rhubarb wine. I have taken many bottles of Amana rhubarb wine to author functions.

Thanks for talking with me today Judith! Do we have any more Amana books to look forward to?
I hope to write three more books about Amana. I want to write about all seven villages, but they (Bethany House) like to publish the books in threes so, two villages will be put together in one book. I might even do a prequel.

In honor of Judith’s new release I am giving away one copy of A Bond Never Broken. All you have to do is comment on this post. Make sure that you have a link to your contact information or leave your email. The give away ends on Friday February 18 2011 at Central time. Good luck! (This give away is in no way connected with Judith Miller or Bethany House. It’s from me to you.)

Reading about My Town: Amana Colonies
This giveaway has ended. Thank you to all that entered. Our winner is...Betty! Congratulations!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Blizzard 2011: A report from South Amana

I don’t know if you heard, but we got a wee bit of snow here in Iowa last night. Looks like we received about 10 inches of snow, though it is hard to tell with all of the drifting.  At my place snow was up to the doors of my car and the lawn furniture was barely visible. Early morning was time for snow removal here in town, and I sure all around the Midwest.  Lucky for me I have a kind neighbor with a snow blower who dug out our sidewalk and my car, so I only had minimal shoveling.
 Despite the wind and the cold after my shoveling was done I decided to walk to the post office to get the mail and to see how the rest of South Amana fared the storm.  Crunching through knee deep drifts I saw a lot of people with shovels and snow blowers trying to dig out their drive ways. Around the corner from my place I ran into neighbors who were supposed to be on a flight to Texas last night. Obviously their plans were change and they spent the first day of their vacation with shovels in hands instead of drinking margaritas in the shadow of the Alamo. (They didn’t tell me their plans in Texas, but if I was going to Texas, that’s what I would be doing).

 At the post office I had a nice talk with the Postmistress. She described an adventurous ride to work on a snowmobile. I don’t think she would have made it any other way since the drive to the post office was drifted in.  Apparently there were quite the snow drifts on highway 6 early this morning and snowmobile was the only way to get into town from out in the country.

After a night of watching snow fall and hearing the wind howl it was nice to see my little village a busy little hive of snow removal. The snow has stop and so has the gale force winds, hopefully life will be back to normal tomorrow.

Digging out in My Town: Amana Colonies