Take free tours of "Iowa's People & Places" exhibition
The State Historical Society of Iowa's mobile museum is hitting the road again as it continues its journey to all 99 Iowa counties.
Housed in a custom-built Winnebago, the 300-square-foot museum on wheels launched in 2017 and completed its first 99-county tour in 2019, making 175 stops along the way and attracting nearly 65,000 visitors, including 11,400 students. The current exhibition, "Iowa History 101: Iowa's People & Places," debuted in 2021 and will continue its 99-county journey through the end of this year.
The public is invited to take free self-guided tours of the mobile museum at the Vinton Public Library, 510 2nd Ave. in Vinton, Iowa, at the following dates and times:
Monday, May 22, 12 p.m.-5 p.m.
Tuesday, May 23, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Wednesday, May 24, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
"This traveling exhibit has been a huge success because it shares Iowa history in towns across the entire state, and Iowans are eager to have that experience in their communities," State Historical Society of Iowa Administrator Susan Kloewer said. "We're grateful to our community hosts and generous sponsors who are helping make this next 99-county tour possible."
The exhibition shares stories from Iowa's past with an eclectic array of artifacts from the State Historical Museum of Iowa's permanent collection, plus a video narrated by WOI-TV host Jackie Schmillen.
Guests will see iconic artifacts that reflect the role of Iowans in state, national and international events, including a Meskwaki cradleboard representing the past and continued presence of Native nations in Iowa. They'll also see women's suffrage materials from the early 1900s and the pen used by Iowa Governor William Harding to sign Iowa's resolution in support of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Other artifacts include a menu from a dinner held in Des Moines for Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, in 1959, as well as photos of a southeast Asian refugee and Sudanese women in central Iowa, and a flight suit that southern Iowa native and accomplished astronaut Peggy Whitson wore during one of multiple expeditions (totaling 665 days) aboard the International Space Station.
"These images and objects remind us of the role Iowans played in global events," State Curator Leo Landis said. "It's easy to overlook the significant contributions Iowans have made in promoting equality and liberty, but this exhibit can inspire all Iowans to understand and appreciate our past and promote these values."
EMC Insurance Companies sponsored the first tour and renewed its support for the new exhibition.
"EMC Insurance Companies has deep roots in Iowa," EMC Executive Vice President Beth Nigut said. "We're proud to be a part of our state's history and excited to help share it with Iowans across the state."
The idea for the mobile museum emerged in 2014 from a series of community conversations organized by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, which oversees the State Historical Society of Iowa. Iowans care deeply about history and made it clear they wanted new ways to access the State Historical Museum's resources.
Iowans may request a visit from the mobile museum for their local schools, libraries, museums, community festivals, county fairs and other places where people gather. Visits are complimentary and the tours are self-guided.
More details are available at iowaculture.gov. Iowans can also follow the mobile museum's statewide journey on Facebook at facebook.com/IowaHistory.
The traveling exhibition presenting sponsor is EMC Insurance Companies and fuel sponsor is Casey's. Additional partner support is provided by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Winnebago Industries, Atlantic Coca-Cola Bottling Company and Mike Wolfe.
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