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New Iowa history exhibits travels across 99 Iowa Counties

Iowa History Mobile Museum
Iowa History Mobile Museum
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The State Historical Society of Iowa’s mobile museum is getting back on the road with a brand-new exhibition, after taking a 16-month break from visitors.

Housed in a custom-built Winnebago, “Iowa History 101: Iowa’s People & Places” is a 300-square-foot museum on wheels, packed with 56 artifacts and videos that explore 13,000 years of Iowa history, from its earliest residents to those who call it home today.

The mobile museum will carry “Iowa’s People & Places” to all 99 Iowa counties beginning this month through 2023. The first mobile museum exhibition made 175 stops across all 99 counties from 2017 through 2019 and attracted nearly 65,000 visitors, including 11,400 students.

“Our first statewide tour was an enormous success, and Iowans let us know they wanted this traveling museum to keep rolling with another exhibition," said Susan Kloewer, administrator of the State Historical Society of Iowa. "We're eager to take this history experience back on the road and to share more stories with Iowans.”

The EMC Insurance Companies, which sponsored the first tour , renewed its support for the second.

The new exhibition unpacks some of the stories of Iowa's past with an array of artifacts selected from the State Historical Museum of Iowa in Des Moines, and its introduction video is narrated by WOI-TV host Jackie Schmillen. Some of the highlights on display include:

  • Token from the Hudson Bay Company from Dubuque County in 1800.
  • Election ticket from 1860.
  • Knitting needles Iowa first lady Jane Kirkwood of Iowa City used to knit clothing for soldiers during the Civil War and World War I.
  • Birchbark lunchbox a Cerro Gordo County boy used in the 1870s.
  • Meskwaki cradleboard from the late 1800s.
  • University of Iowa pennant from Edward Carter of Monroe County, the first African American to get a medical degree from the University of Iowa, in 1907.
  • Paper fan promoting women’s suffrage, from about 1916.
  • Menu from Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev’s visit to Des Moines in 1959.
  • Women’s track uniform from Iowa State University from 1972, the year Title IX passed.
  • Boots worn by Des Moines Water Works Director L.D. McMullen during the flood of 1993.
  • Flight suit worn by astronaut Peggy Whitson of Beaconsfield.

Iowans may request a visit from the mobile museum for schools, libraries, local museums, community festivals, county fairs and other places where people gather. Visits are complimentary and the tours are self-guided.

To date, “Iowa’s People & Places” is already scheduled to visit the following communities:

  • July 9-11: Pomeroy, Pomeroy Sesquicentennial
  • July 27-31: Columbus Junction, Louisa County Fair
  • Aug. 6-8: Britt, Hobo Days
  • Aug. 20-22: Wilton, Founders Day
  • Sept. 25: Shenandoah, Shenfest
  • Oct. 3: Lamoni, Annual Fall Festival
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More details are available at Iowans can also follow the mobile museum's statewide journey on Facebook.

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