What is the traveling exhibit about?

“Iowa History 101” explores some of the most fundamental yet fascinating stories about Iowans — who we are, how we got here, and how we live, work and play. The exhibit incorporates artifacts from the State Historical Museum of Iowa in Des Moines, paired with video and audio elements created with help from exhibit partner and Le Claire native Mike Wolfe, the creator and star of the History channel series “American Pickers.”

Who thought up this idea in the first place?

The inspiration for this traveling exhibit emerged from a series of community conversations the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs organized across the state in the summer of 2014. We heard from hundreds of Iowans who care deeply about history and wanted new ways to access the State Historical Museum’s resources even if they couldn’t visit Des Moines in person.

So it’s in an RV? Tell us more about that.

The exhibit will be housed in a 38-foot Winnebago manufactured at the company’s headquarters in Forest City. The total exhibit space measures about 300 square feet.

Who developed the exhibit?

The State Historical Museum of Iowa staff curated objects from the museum’s permanent collection and worked with a Nashville-based company called 1220 Exhibits to design and build the displays. Mike Wolfe lent his voice and video talents for the multimedia elements.

How did Mike Wolfe get involved?

Mike was touring the museum’s vault in Des Moines several years ago and was impressed with both the scope of the collection and the care with which the museum staff oversees it. This new “Iowa History 101” project aligns with Mike’s longstanding interest in history and the use of artifacts to unlock its stories.

Where will the RV go?

We’ll announce the 2017 tentative route at the Celebrate Iowa Gala on Dec. 9 at the State Historical Museum. Our long-term goal is to send the RV to all 99 counties within its first three years of operation.

What sorts of places will the RV visit?

Look for it at a school, library, cultural organization or community festival near you. We’re especially proud to offer Iowa teachers and National History Day coaches a chance to enrich their history lessons with primary artifacts through this traveling exhibit.

How can communities book a visit?

We’ll set up instructions on the Department of Cultural Affairs website, www.iowaculture.gov, after the Dec. 9 gala.

How will the artifacts be kept safe?

Our museum team has designed the exhibit with all the usual safeguards they employ at the museum in Des Moines — taking into account light, temperature, humidity and other factors. Plus, the RV is equipped with an air-suspension system and extra stabilization protections to make sure the artifacts can withstand any bumps on the road.

Where will the RV be parked when it’s not on the road?

It has a secure spot inside the museum’s loading dock.


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