History is Alive at Iowa’s State Historical Museum

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On Saturday I toured Iowa’s State Historical Museum. I signed up for the docent-led tour at 11 a.m., and to my surprise, I was the only one on the tour. My tour guide, Bill, did a great job introducing me to the exhibits of the museum, from the natural history to the era of settlement, from the history of coal mining in the Hawkeye state to the heritage of agriculture. The exhibits are very interactive and enjoyable for all ages.

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After the tour, I enjoyed the excellent exhibit on Iowa and the Civil War. Iowans played a strong role in the Union victory from home front support (which saw a growth in farm production and the role of women in the workplace) to every major campaign and the majority of major battles. The exhibit of rare Civil War flags, many Iowa regimental pennants, was very impressive.

"Iowa and the Civil War"

A bonus to the traditional history exhibits is the “Hollywood in Heartland” exhibit. I ran out of time to see it all, but I did catch two of my favorites, one on “The Music Man,” one of my favorite musicals and films, which should be required to watch if you move to Iowa.

John Wayne Exhibit in "Hollywood in the Heartland"

And of course, I couldn’t pass up the display to my favorite Western movie hero, John Wayne. I recommend the exhibit, and anyone who is a fan of the Duke, to make plans to be in Winterset, Iowa, May 22-24, for the dedication and grand opening of the new John Wayne Birthplace Museum.

photo 2 srLast, I love state capitol buildings, and the Iowa State Capitol, is one of the beautiful in the country, especially when the spring sunshine hits the 275-foot high, 23-karat gold leaf five-domed seat of state government. Built in Renaissance style, it was completed in 1886 after 15 years of construction. Interesting fact that the museum docent shared with me, the Capitol sits on a hill just beyond the farthest extent of the glaciers from the last Ice Age.

 

About Stuart Rosebrook

Stuart Rosebrook has over 25 years of professional experience in journalism, publishing, public history, television production, and non-profit management. He is currently on contract as Senior Editor for True West magazine, managing five departments. He also blogs three times a week on book news, film and television, and Western history. He is the owner of his own business, Quo Vadis Communications, LLC. His first book, At Work in Arizona: The First 100 Years, a 168-page, 5 color, photo-essay book for Alliance Bank of Arizona, with curator Marilyn Szabo, was published in Phoenix in December 2014. Other professional roles included institutional advancement and development, consultant and editor for the William and Mary Alumni Association, the Orme School of Arizona, associate editor of Arizona Highways magazine, associate producer for Falrose Productions, and an assignment editor KTVK-TV3 in Phoenix. He is a professional historian of the American West, 20th Century American History, and Public History. He has a Ph.D. and M.A. from Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona, and a B.A. in history from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
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