Following two decades of leading Midway Village Museum, David Byrnes is announcing his retirement from the history museum and will step down in December, 2020. Byrnes has had a long career of leadership at the museum.
“David’s contributions extend beyond managing a large campus institution,” said Karl Jacobs, a long-time Board Member, and former President of Rock Valley College. “He brought to us a deep understanding of what the past means to a community. With the rapidity of change today the need of a leader such as David Byrnes is more evident in defining our future.” David, who started with Midway Village Museum in 1999, could see what Midway Village Museum could be and worked to create the best history museum in the area. He instituted the World War II Days special event that has become one of the largest military re-enactments of its kind in the country. During his 21-year tenure, he established other outstanding programs, but also kept up with the times and deleted programs that were not as successful.
David hired professional, competent staff who completely organized and cataloged the extensive collection of the museum and has begun the process of digitizing it. The museum has more than 150,000 artifacts all related to Rockford history and one of the largest and most comprehensive textile collections in the Northern Illinois region. Over time, Midway Village Museum has won more than 25 local, state and national awards for programs and services.
“All non-profit organizations have financial restrictions,” said Nancy Bloomstrand, who was on the board at the time David began his career at the museum and subsequently volunteered on the board for more than 25 years. “David has worked hard to make the museum as financially stable as possible with donations, grants, endowments as well as membership and fees for events.
David also proposed an exhibit to build on the diversity of the community, called “Many Faces, One Community” that is an outstanding informative and interactive exhibit. With 21 buildings on the property, there are many different opportunities for a variety of organizations, families and businesses to learn about the Rockford area. He has created a large rental department for weddings and family and business events. He strategically moved the marketing and development areas forward creating formalized professionally-managed programs in those areas.
“We have been incredibly fortunate to have David Byrnes lead Midway Village Museum for the past 21 years,” said Britta Severin Peterson, Chair of the Board of Directors for the museum. “We wish David the best as he moves into his well-deserved retirement. Midway Village is actively searching for a new Executive Director who can fill his shoes.”