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.


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