LE CLAIRE — If you can’t visit the State Historical Museum in Des Moines, why not let it come to you?
That’s the idea behind “Iowa History 101,” a new multimedia and artifact-based traveling exhibit housed in a Winnebago RV that will visit all 99 Iowa counties beginning next spring.
Museum Director Susan Kloewer announced the new exhibit recently at Antique Archaeology in Le Claire, where she was joined by “American Pickers” creator and star Mike Wolfe and EMC Insurance Companies President and Chief Executive Officer Bruce Kelley.
“The State Historical Museum engages Iowans with fun and exciting stories about our state’s history, and this exhibit is no exception,” Kloewer said in a news release. “Iowa History 101 will unpack some of the most fundamental and fascinating stories of who we are as Iowans, how we got here and who we’ve become. We are grateful that Mike Wolfe and EMC Insurance Group share our commitment to history and community and we thank them for their generous support.”
As an exhibit partner, Wolfe will provide voice and video talent for the exhibit’s multi-media components while EMC Insurance Group is the exhibit’s presenting sponsor, marking the second time the company has supported a traveling exhibit from the State Historical Museum.
“I’m so proud of Iowa’s record of historic preservation and of the real interest we Iowans have in our history,” said Wolfe, who also is a partner for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, in a news release. “So it’s an honor for me to be involved with the ‘Iowa History 101’ exhibit, rolling across the state next year to celebrate our 160th birthday and sharing our stories in all 99 counties.”
In 2011, EMC Insurance Companies sponsored a traveling exhibit “to commemorate the sacrifices Iowans made during the Civil War and to recognize our company’s 100-year history,” Kelley said. “When the museum folks approached us again to support this traveling exhibit, the answer was yes. There is no better way to connect Iowans across the state than by sharing the stories that make us who we are.”
During the announcement, Kloewer shared a few key artifacts that will be included in the exhibit, including the 1917 prototype of Iowa’s state flag designed by Dixie Cornell Gebhardt of Knoxville and a 1928 record of the song “Sugar” by the Paul Whiteman Orchestra featuring Davenport’s Leon “Bix” Beiderbecke.
In addition, Deputy State Preservation Officer Steve King previewed the upcoming Preserve Iowa Summit scheduled for Sept.15-17 in neighboring Davenport, a city with more listings on the National Register of Historic Places than any other in Iowa.
Breakout sessions at the summit will address a wide range of topics, including early 20th century homes sold by Sears, Roebuck and Co.; the National Register of Historic Places nomination process; nuisance properties and preservation; and even the intricacies of historic wallpaper.
Speakers will also discuss technical issues, including historic preservation tax credits, Community Development Block Grants, and how to address mortar, windows and roofs as part of historic preservation projects.
Attendees will also discuss “The African American Experience in Iowa” and visit several local venues on foot or a guided bike tour, including the German-American Heritage Center and the Figge Art Museum, plus Credit Island, the Rock Island Arsenal, the Palmer School of Chiropractic and the historic Oakdale Cemetery.
Detailed information about the summit, sessions, speakers, programs and registration is available at www.preserveiowasummit.org.
The State Historical Museum of Iowa and the State Historic Preservation Office are overseen by the State Historical Society of Iowa, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. More information is available at www.iowaculture.gov or 515-281-5111.