About the State Historical Society > News > 2011

State Historical Society of Iowa Press Release

For immediate release December 19, 2011

Contact: Jeff Morgan, Jeff.Morgan@iowa.gov, (515) 281-3858

"Caucus Iowa" exhibit to close January 8

State Historical Museum exhibit explores history of Iowa caucuses

DES MOINES – The Department of Cultural Affairs today announced the State Historical Museum’s “Caucus Iowa” exhibit will close Jan. 8, 2012, after next month’s Iowa caucuses.

The 10,000-square-foot exhibit opened in 2007 and offers museum visitors a first-hand look at the history of the Iowa caucuses – how they work, why they work and their impact on candidates and presidential campaigns from 1972 through 2004. Museum staff updated the exhibit this fall with information and artifacts from the 2008 caucus cycle, and supplemented it with political campaign artifacts dating back to the 19th century.

“This has been a terrific exhibit that offers Iowans and others a strong look at the history of the Iowa caucuses,” DCA Director Mary Tiffany Cownie said. “As we move closer to the caucuses, I encourage everybody with an interest in presidential campaigns and history to take this last opportunity to see it before it comes down.”

“Caucus Iowa” outlines the Iowa caucuses’ rise to national prominence in the 1970s, explores “retail politics” in a typical coffee shop and recreates a gymnasium and living room as they would appear on caucus night.

The exhibit includes interactive kiosks where visitors can answer caucus history questions and be part of a special straw poll of current candidates. It also examines the impact the media has had on transforming the caucuses into an international event.

Updates in the exhibit include:

  • New interactive touch screen questions.
  • A new section summarizing the 2008 caucuses and general election.
  • Updated news footage in the media room.
  • New artifacts on display from past presidential elections, 1840s through 2008.
  • Voting machines from the 1900s and 1950s.
  • An optical scanner vote counting machine on loan from the Polk County Auditor and Commissioner of Elections with fun questions for people to vote on.


“Caucus Iowa” was funded through a public-private partnership between the State of Iowa and donations from businesses and individuals. “Caucus Iowa” sponsors are MidAmerican Energy Company, Principal Financial Group, US Center for Citizen Diplomacy, Iowa Business Council and WHO-TV. The “Caucus Iowa” Fundraising Committee’s honorary co-chairs were Governor Terry Branstad, Governor Chet Culver, Governor Thomas Vilsack and Governor Robert Ray. Community and government partners include Greater Des Moines Partnership, Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau, Drake University, Iowa Department of Economic Development (now called Iowa Economic Development Authority) and the Iowa Secretary of State’s office.

The State Historical Museum is open 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and Noon-4:30 p.m. Sunday. More information is available by calling 515-281-5111 or visiting www.iowahistory.org.



The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs is responsible for developing the state’s interest in the areas of the arts, history and other cultural matters with the advice and assistance from its two divisions: the State Historical Society of Iowa and the Iowa Arts Council. DCA preserves, researches, interprets and promotes an awareness and understanding of local, state and regional history and stimulates and encourages the study and presentation of the performing and fine arts and public interest and participation in them. It implements tourism-related art and history projects as directed by the General Assembly and designs a comprehensive, statewide, long-range plan with the assistance of the Iowa Arts Council to develop the arts in Iowa. More information about DCA is available at www.culturalaffairs.org.


©2013 The State of Iowa, All Rights Reserved | Policies | Accessibility | Non-discrimination and Accommodation | Website Feedback