The Obama Presidential Center will have the first of three Iowa Collections Gatherings from 6 to 8 p.m. today at Red’s Alehouse in North Liberty.
“It’s almost like ‘Antiques Roadshow,’ ” said Sue Dvorsky of Coralville, who has been working with the center on it search for Obama-related memorabilia.
Dvorsky is quick to add that the center staff won’t be taking items back to Chicago. The event will be an opportunity to connect and share memorabilia from the Iowa campaign to be considered for acquisition.
“They’re cataloging items and getting Iowans’ stories so when they get back to Chicago they know what they have, what they need” to complete the collections, Dvorsky explained.
Iowa — in particular, the work the campaign did leading up to the 2008 Iowa caucuses — “was positively pivotal for the Obama campaign,” Dvorsky said. “So will be a special part of the collection.”
The presidential center will tell the story of President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama from their time raising a family on Chicago’s South Side to the White House. The museum will highlight key moments in their lives, including their 2008 Iowa caucus victory that sparked a successful presidential campaign.
The collections gathering will be a time for people who were on the ground in Iowa in 2007-08 and 2011-12 to share the kinds of stories and memorabilia that will be highlighted in the museum when it opens.
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The museum is looking for “any objects that reflect or represent a story from the campaigns, that tell the story of the Obamas from that time,” said Sophie Loyd of the museum team at the Obama Foundation. In addition to the campaign pins, signs and posters, “there probably are a lot of unique items out there that we wouldn’t think to ask for.”
Dvorsky, a former Iowa Democratic Party chairwoman, and her husband, Bob, and their daughters were early backers of Barack Obama. The opportunity to work with the center staff has been an “absolute joy.”
“These are not political people. They’re museum people,” she said.
When she mentioned the possibility of getting one of the Obama campaign’s “hope” barn signs that lined the highway to the Harkin Steak Fry in Indianola, “they had no idea what a barn sign was.”
“So we’re teaching them to speak political, and they’re teaching us to talk provenance,” Dvorsky said.
What they are looking for
- Campaign, election and inauguration memorabilia of all kinds
- Objects, documents or photos from campaign volunteers that show a unique, unexpected or personally meaningful aspect of the campaign experience
- Materials related to Election Night 2008 and the 2009 inauguration, including expressions of identity- and/or community-based pride and the historic nature of President Barack Obama’s status as the first African American president of the United States
- Anti-Obama materials that speak to the complex narrative of our democratic process
- Objects, documents and images that connect to the challenges, critiques, achievements and significant events of President Barack Obama’s eight years in office
- Personal mementos of interactions with the president, first lady or other members of the White House from either presidential term
For more about the Obama Presidential Center, visit obama.org.
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