Newcomers bring passion for history to museum

Meet Jones and McDonald, the historical museum staff offering a fresh perspective on county history

    HARLAN -- When Lauren Jones and Sarah McDonald moved to Harlan to begin their careers at the Shelby County Historical Museum, they had never even heard of the town.
    Now, they are well-versed on the history of Shelby County and apply their expertise to update and enhance the museum.
    McDonald began her position as executive director of the museum in April 2018. Originally from Dallas, Texas, she had to adapt to small-town life, but quickly immersed in the vibrant Harlan community.
    Jones started as the grants and development coordinator for the museum in May 2020, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Jones is a Huxley native accustomed to Iowa life, but she had never been to Harlan. Despite arriving during the lockdown, Jones found creative ways to update the museum.
    Jones and McDonald are dedicated employees and work tirelessly to contribute their knowledge and skills to improve the museum.
    As the museum’s only two employees, McDonald and Jones work together to complete a range of different tasks to keep the operation running smoothly.  
    “Between the two of us, we hold at least 15 different traditional museum jobs from maintenance to guest services,” McDonald said.
    Jones’ bubbly and outgoing personality balances perfectly with McDonald’s calm, thoughtful disposition. Each with a unique and varied skill set, the women have tackled numerous tasks at the museum, from renovations to website building.

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