Carnegie Library Museum set to reopen Jan. 4 in Perry

Allison Ullmann
Perry Chief
Mary Murphy, director of the Perry Public Library, stands behind the front desk at the Carnegie Library Museum. The building will reopen on Tuesday, Jan. 4 after an agreement was reached between the Perry Public Library, city of Perry and Hometown Heritage.

The Carnegie Library Museum will reopen its doors on Tuesday, Jan. 4 after being shut for two years.

The Perry Public Library, Hometown Heritage and the city of Perry have partnered together to ensure the Carnegie Library Museum will stay open for Perry residents and visitors.

Perry Public Library Director Mary Murphy said the library will help oversee the museum and it's staff, adding that it will be like another branch of the public library.

The Carnegie Library Museum was built in 1904 and served as the public library for 90 years before a new building was built in 1994. 

“We’re excited to have it open because people come into the library all the time and say ‘is that open? Could I take a tour?’” Murphy said of the Carnegie Library Museum.

The interior of the Carnegie Library Museum. The building will reopen on Tuesday, Jan. 4.

Hometown Heritage leased the building from the city of Perry before the COVID-19 pandemic. When public buildings closed in March of 2020 because of COVID-19, Hometown Heritage at the Carnegie Library Museum was also closed.

The Perry Public Library, city of Perry and Hometown Heritage have been meeting since September to come up with an agreement allowing the Carnegie Library Museum to reopen. Once an agreement was met, work started on hiring two new positions to help staff the building.

The Carnegie Library Museum will reopen on Tuesday, Jan. 4 and will be open six days a week.

In addition to having the building open, residents and visitors will also have access to the Hometown Heritage collections. Those collections include 15,000 photos and around 600 oral histories from Perry residents documenting their stories and the history of Perry.

“The mission of Hometown Heritage is to help our community’s cultural and economic growth by preserving local history, supporting the arts and celebrating life in small town Iowa,” a news release said.

Some of the books on display inside the Carnegie Library Museum. The building will reopen on Tuesday, Jan. 4.

In addition to the photos and oral histories, Hometown Heritage also presents a variety of programs about history and the arts. Hometown Heritage received grants from the State Historical Society of Iowa, Inc., Art on the Prairie and the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs to help kick start their programs.

Murphy added that they plan to start a series of five programs in February, focusing on how work, education, family, faith and loss affects Perry and small towns. 

“Our goal on everybody’s part, the Perry Public Library, the city of Perry, Hometown Heritage, is to get the building open again and have access to the Hometown Heritage collection and the programming,” Murphy said. “It’s just awesome to come in the doors and feel the history.” 

“This partnership represents the best way forward for the long term success of Hometown Heritage and the Carnegie Library Museum,” added Bill Clark, president of Hometown Heritage.

Hometown Heritage at the Carnegie Library Museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 1-4 p.m. Sunday. Call 515-465-7713 to schedule a tour of the building.

The interior of the Carnegie Library Museum in Perry. The building will reopen on Tuesday, Jan. 4.