MUSCATINE, Iowa–For many years, Dustin Joy enjoyed Muscatine and the National Pearl Button Museum @ History and Industry Center. A resident of Illinois City, Illinois, Joy’s children took swim lessons at the Muscatine Community Y and took trips to Discovery Park and the Muscatine Environmental Learning Center as well as the National Pearl Button Museum. “I’ve always been an admirer of the museum,” he said.
However, Joy did not always have as much time as he would have liked to explore the museum’s ins and outs. Though Joy describes himself as having, “been a history buff all my life and a museum nerd,” his 21 year career as a commercial airline pilot kept him away from home much of the time. Making the most of his situation, he used his trips to learn about museums in many locations. “In my previous job as a pilot, I would travel all over the country and visit all the museums,” he shared.
Things changed for Joy in April, when the airlines he flew for closed for good. Even before the layoff, he had contemplated a career change. Despite his love of flying, Joy found he missed spending time with his wife and attending his children’s concerts and sporting events. When he learned Terry Eagle planned to retire from his position as the National Pearl Button Museum’s Executive Director, he knew he had found just the job for him.
Though Joy did not have a background in museum studies (he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology from Knox College and farmed with his father-in-law for several years before becoming a pilot) his passion for supporting and growing the National Pearl Button Museum won the board over. He looks forward to continuing the work started by Eagle, current National Pearl Button Museum staff Angie Weikert, Mary Hopkins, and Vada Baker, and all those who came before him. He also intends to expand the museum to a larger space when the opportunity presents itself.
Joy anticipates finding more ways for the National Pearl Button Museum to partner with area non-profits to benefit the city as a whole. “This is such a nice town and it’s made a lot of progress,” he stated.
While Joy feels he has, “big shoes to fill,” as he assumes his new role, he appreciates all the on the job training he has received from current staff and enthusiastically works to keep promoting Muscatine’s pearl button history. In time, his aspirations will come to fruition and add a new chapter to one of Muscatine’s most distinguished sites.