Porter Recognized at Iowa Museum Conference

Museum Industry Rising Star

August 13th, 2019

Porter-Melissa.jpgMelissa Porter has been chosen to receive the 2019 Iowa Museum Association Rising Star Award.

Melissa, a 2017 Master of Arts graduate of George Washington University’s Museology/Museum Studies program, concentrated on interpretation and public engagement during her course of study.  Shortly after graduation, Melissa became Museum Program Manager at Brucemore, a National for Historic Preservation site, charged with creating new programs and executing the already existing 64 days of concerts, plays, and events scheduled as well as 220 days of history tours.

In her nomination of Porter, Tara Richards, Director of Community Engagement at Brucemore, said “Melissa spent her first year learning the established rhythm of the organization.  Never afraid to ask questions, she learned quickly.  By her second year at Brucemore in 2018, she had become a valued and vital member of the staff.”

Melissa distinguished herself through the creation and leadership of multiple program types including children’s programming, growing attendance more than 40% between her first and second year; heritage programming; cultural partnership programming; and outreach, meeting with other area museum educators to coordinate and share ideas on local programming.

Melissa also added value to Brucemore through her extensive experience with collections and archival theory.  She worked with others to re-house, catalogue, study and analyze pieces of the Brucemore collection, writing stories that have been included in the Brucemore Annual report, quarterly newsletters, Brucemore website and volunteer updates.

Melissa’s work in cultural partnership programming included the creation of two new programs at Brucemore that grew engagement not only for Brucemore but for other Linn county communities.  The Preservation Tour she developed underscores Brucemore’s dedication to community engagement, and increases awareness of the theory, practice, costs and value of historic preservation.  Beyond developing the 90-minute tour, Melissa wrote and designed email and social media marketing to encourage ticket sales.

Melissa will present on this programming during a breakout session on Monday, October 7, 2019 as part of the Iowa Museum Association conference.

Writing in support of Melissa’s nomination, David Janssen, Executive Director, Brucemore, said, “Throughout my 26-year museum career, I have worked with a variety of staff and different historical organizations.  Melissa is clearly an exceptional employee and I have no doubt that she will continue to make an impact in the museum community for the entirety of her career.  She is a dedicated individual who regularly exceeds expectations in all areas of performance.”

Janssen went on to note Porter’s work in coordinating staff, outside partners and audiences in the Douglas Starch Works commemoration program, noting the true measure of the program was in the quantity of 40+ program partners and their enthusiasm for participating.  Janssen said, “She demonstrated a courage to act innovatively in what community programming and outreach could mean.  As a result, the organization benefited from increased community goodwill and the potential for ongoing partnerships.”

Stephen A. Warren, Associate Professor of History and American Studies, University of Iowa, also noted the collaborative approach to historical research that resulted in the Douglas Starch Works project, saying, “I decided to design my course, HIST 2151: Introduction to the History Major, around a collaboration between Brucemore and the University of Iowa.”  He went on to say, “Melissa was an integral part of the course design process and she visited my class on two occasions during the research process.  My students shared their research at the Brucemore Estate on May 4, 2019, to a public audience.  Melissa was part of a team that created a model of community-engaged scholarship and I heartily recommend her for the Rising Star Award.”

In her nomination, Richards said, “Melissa plays a pivotal role for our Community Engagement team and organizations.  She continues to grow in her role as a museum Program Manager and as a contributor to the Brucemore staff and museum community.”

Cynthia Sweet, Director of the Iowa Museum Association said, “The Rising Star Award recognizes individuals who have worked or volunteered in the Iowa museum field for 3-5 years and have helped their museum broaden its audience through engagement activities.  Melissa Porter’s work at Brucemore is an outstanding example of the fresh ideas and new perspectives emerging professionals and new volunteers bring to the field.  Her enthusiasm, vision, and innovative approach make her a Rising Star in the Iowa museum industry.”

The mission of the Iowa Museum Association is to work in the interests of Iowa museums to build organizational capacity, advocate to heighten awareness of the field, and foster community.

Iowa’s museums include art centers and art museums, botanical gardens, children’s museums, historic sites, history museums, historical societies, living history sites, nature centers, natural history museums, planetariums, science and technology centers, and zoos.

For more information about the Iowa Museum Association, visit www.iowamuseums.org


Do I need to pay to enter the estate and walk on the grounds?

No. Visiting the Brucemore estate during grounds hours is free. Tickets are only required for scheduled tours and events, and they can be purchased in advance online.

Is a reservation needed to visit Brucemore?

You do not need a reservation to visit the grounds on your own. You do need a ticket to go inside the mansion. We recommend advance reservations for any of our mansion tours or other scheduled special themed tours due to limited capacity. Please visit our calendar to see upcoming opportunities and to purchase your tickets.

Touring the Mansion

Can I take pictures inside the mansion?

Yes. Photography is allowed during tours for personal, non-professional use. Tripods, selfie-sticks, or other photography equipment will not be permitted. Photographs should not distract from others’ enjoyment.

How large is the mansion?

Brucemore is approximately 15,000 square feet.

How many fireplaces, rooms, and floors does Brucemore have?

There are 21 “main” rooms, 14 fireplaces and four floors plus an attic.

Is all of the furniture original to the house and families?

Much of the furniture you will see on display belonged to the second or third families to live at Brucemore; however, some pieces had to be replaced with replicas or similar antiques.

Is the mansion handicap accessible?

The Brucemore mansion includes multiple floors and several staircases. Because of the historic architecture, some spaces are not accessible. Due to preservation work, the wheelchair lift that offers accessibility to the first floor is not available at this time. An elevator is not available from the first floor to the other floors at any time. Learn more about accessibility at Brucemore.

Group and School Tours

Is there an age requirement for students visiting Brucemore?

You do not have to be a certain age to visit or attend a program at Brucemore. Different programs are best suited for different ages. Tours of the mansion are recommended for 4th grade and older due to the concepts and historic collection.

Where do we park?

Parking is available on site a short walk from the mansion or carriage house. Buses must follow special instructions. Large events may not be able to accommodate on-site parking; please see the event calendar information for exceptions.

Is bus parking available?

Yes. Bus parking is available near the carriage house. Buses must arrive via special directions as they are unable to fit in our historic gates.

Is there a lunch area at Brucemore?

There is not a designated area indoors or outdoors to eat; however, you are welcome to bring your own blanket or chair to picnic on the grounds. Please carry out any trash to help our small staff keep the grounds beautiful.

Does my group have to arrive together?

Please let group members or chaperones know where they can meet the group.

What is your payment policy?

Brucemore admission is to be paid prior to the visit and a deposit may be required. Payment can be made by cash, check, or credit card and should be paid in one sum.

Do I need to make an appointment to tour the mansion?

You must have a ticket to a tour or program inside the mansion. Many tours do sell out in advance; purchase online or by calling 319-362-7375 in advance of your visit to guarantee your spot. See the schedule here.

Is the mansion wheelchair accessible?

The mansion is not currently accessible to wheelchairs due to preservation work. The mansion includes multiple flights of stairs. Most of the outdoor areas of the site are accessible. See our full accessibility information and contact us with additional questions regarding your visit.

Can I walk on the property?

Yes, the grounds and gardens are open daily most of the year. Several self-guided interpretive panels and tours via QR codes are available. See hours here.

What is Brucemore’s ticket policy?

Tickets are non-refundable, but may be rescheduled for comparable programs as space allows. Learn more.

I’m attending a large event at Brucemore. Where do I park?

Large events may require you to park offsite. Please read the event details on the calendar for specific information for each event.