The Danish Windmill Board of Directors is pleased to name Shaun Sayres of Harlan, to serve as the next museum manager. He will succeed longtime manager, Lisa Steen Riggs, who has been with the windmill after its arrival at Elk Horn in 1976. Originally built in Nørre Snede in 1848, the Danish Windmill museum has remained a staple of Elk Horn’s vibrant Danish community, drawing thousands of tourists to Elk Horn every year.
Sayres earned his Master of Arts in American History from the University of New Hampshire and is enrolled as a Ph.D. candidate in Clark University’s doctoral program in American history. He has a comprehensive knowledge of northern European culture, technology, and migrations, including windmills and Atlantic crossings. He is currently writing his dissertation on steamboats and westward expansion, including the use of steamboats by European immigrants in the nineteenth-century.
His qualifications in public history are supplemented by substantial experience in retail and customer service. He also acquired technical skills such as woodworking, electrical, plumbing which will be valuable in identifying and troubleshooting issues relating to the historic preservation needs of the 1848 windmill. Chris Fredericksen, the Windmill’s board president said, “We believe that Shaun’s unique blend of experience in history education and retail make him well qualified for the role.”
Since moving to Harlan in 2021, in addition to conducting research for his thesis, Sayres has taught at Harlan Community School District, Tri-Center Community School District in Neola, and volunteers for the Shelby County Historical Museum. As a trained historian with a commitment to history education and public engagement with history, he looks forward to carrying on the successes of the Danish Windmill as a renowned public archive of Danish-American culture and heritage.
“With these skills at hand and a never-ending drive for learning new histories and skills, I believe I possess all of the desired qualities to ensure a successful tenure as the next manager of the Danish Windmill,” Shaun stated. “Although recognized primarily as educators, historians are always students at heart and I am excited for the opportunity to dig into Danish-American culture and heritage while sharing my energy and passion for history with the people of Elk Horn, Iowa and beyond.”
The Danish Windmill is a 501(c)(3) non-profit museum established in 1975. As America’s only authentic working Danish windmill, it proudly serves as a historical and educational museum for all people interested in Denmark, Danish customs, Scandinavian traditions, Iowa’s cultural heritage and of course, windmills.