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State Historical Society of Iowa Press Release

For immediate release March 01, 2013

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

Make Spring Break one for the history books

Visit the State Historical Museum of Iowa for art, activities, programs and more

(DES MOINES) – The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs invites Iowans and visitors to the State Historical Museum of Iowa this month to enjoy a wide variety of programs and activities.

Beginning today, the Museum is celebrating March with a display of student art; a statewide Poetry Out Loud competition; and numerous opportunities for families and children to engage in educational and entertaining art and history activities.

The month also offers visitors a once-in-a-life-time opportunity to meet Benjamin Victor, the artist commissioned to create a statue of Norman Borlaug for the U.S. Capitol Building. During his two-week artist-in-residency March 18-31, 2013, Victor will interact with Museum visitors and work on the Borlaug statue.

Following is a list of exhibits and programs being highlighted this month at the State Historical Museum of Iowa:

Exhibits – Ongoing
The State Historical Museum opened four new exhibits during the past year with topics ranging from Iowans in the Civil War; preservation and conservation of artifacts; cultural and historical amenities in Iowa’s 99 counties; and 25 artifacts from the Museum’s permanent collection.

  • Iowa and the Civil War: Nothing But Victory: With more than 300 authentic artifacts and documents, this 10,000 square-foot exhibition recounts the first-hand experiences of Iowans at war and the communities that supported them. See the historic battle flags Iowa soldiers carried and the actual weaponry – cannons, guns and swords – they used while fighting in some of the most important events and turning points of the Civil War.
  • Saving Our Stuff: Featuring nearly 100 artifacts selected from the State Historical Museum’s subterranean, climate-controlled collections storage facility, this 2,300-square-foot exhibition showcases a wide variety of objects from the museum’s permanent collection – papers, metals/silver, clay pottery/stoneware, natural history specimens, wood furniture and more – in various stages of conservation treatment. Visitors can watch a museum conservator work on a 1927 piano from Des Moines’ Orpheum Theatre, learn the differences between “restoration” and “stabilization,” and discover why some artifacts are best left untouched, including the pot used to make “Big Daddy’s” barbecue sauce.
  • 99 Counties of Iowa: This interactive exhibit offers a touch screen to peruse historical and cultural information in all 99 Iowa counties. Information about Iowa's historic sites and National Register of Historic Places is included, as well as information about where State Historical Museum artifacts originated.
  • 25 Artifacts Spanning 120 Years of the State Historical Museum: The State Historical Museum recently celebrated its 120th anniversary. First opened in the basement of the Capitol in 1892, the Museum housed the State of Iowa’s collection, which has grown to include nearly 100,000 artifacts. In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the State Historical Building, which now houses the Museum, 25 artifacts were selected to showcase various types of donations included in the collection reflecting Iowa’s history. Artifacts from the permanent collection, each representing one year of the past 25 years, range from the Villisca Axe used in Iowa’s most notorious – and unsolved – crime to a watercolor created by Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist J.N. “Ding” Darling (1876-1962).

In addition, the State Historical Museum offers tours of its permanent collection, which is held in a climate-controlled “vault” beneath the State Historical Building. To schedule a tour, contact Sarah Macht at 515-242-5193.

Youth Art Month – March 1-31
The winning entries in a statewide art competition involving Iowa students will be on display this month at the State Historical Museum. Sponsored by Arts Educators of Iowa with support from DCA, the competition showcases works by Iowa students in grades K-12.

Poetry Out Loud – March 3
1 p.m.
The Iowa Arts Council presents the 2013 Poetry Out Loud State Finals. Students compete for a state championship and an opportunity to represent Iowa at the 2013 Poetry Out Loud national competition in Washington, D.C. More than 1,500 Iowa students competed at classroom and school levels this year, and more than 365,000 students across the country competed in the program last year.

Celebrate Childhood Memories – March 18-22
Following is a list of free programs appropriate for youth and families:

  • Make-and-Take Workshops – 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. daily
    • Monday, March 18: Spring is Blooming with Sarah Macht, Museum Staff, Heritage A – Listen to stories, decorate a container and plant seeds in it to take home.
    • Tuesday, March 19: All About Me, Heritage A – Make a poster all about you and create poems.
    • Wednesday, March 20: Childhood Memories from the GDR (East Germany) Heritage B – Author Hannah Trebec will talk about her childhood growing up in East Germany and demonstrate games and a craft. Trebec will have a table in the Atrium 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 1:30-3 p.m. to talk to visitors and sell and sign her recent fiction book “Double Cover-up.”
    • Thursday, March 21: Picturing Childhood Memories with Andy Mayes, History Major, Simpson College, Heritage A – Enjoy vintage photographs and make a miniature book to fill with your own photos.
    • Friday, March 22: Create a Story Quilt with Pat Grubb, Artist and Teacher, Heritage A – Design paper quilt squares and decorate them with stories about your life.
  • Daily Activities
    • Play simple schoolhouse games in the Atrium 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 2-3 p.m.
    • Readings from favorite childhood poems, Atrium, 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.
    • Museum Gallery Walk. Free guided tours at 1:30 p.m. Meet at the First Floor Information Desk.
    • Hands-on traditional games, toys and puppets. Color, stamp and stencil. Heritage Classroom C, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Artist-in-Residence Benjamin Victor – March 18-31
The Dr. Norman E. Borlaug Statue Committee has invited artist Ben Victor to be on-site at the State Historical Museum as an “artist-in-residence” for two weeks, which coincide with Spring Break and Borlaug’s 99th birthday on March 25, 2013.

The Borlaug Committee commissioned Victor to create and install a statue of Borlaug into the U.S. Capitol Building in 2014. Each state is represented by statues of two notable citizens. The Borlaug statue will replace one of Sen. James Harlan. The other statue representing Iowa is of Gov. Samuel Kirkwood. During his residency, Victor will work on the statue and interact with guests and visitors daily.

The Dr. Norman E. Borlaug Statue Committee selected Victor after conducting a world-wide artist search that reflected the global impact of Borlaug’s life and career. The statue is expected to be completed and installed in the U.S. Capitol on March 25, 2014, the 100th anniversary of Borlaug’s birth. Borlaug’s work is credited for saving a billion lives through his development of wheat. His achievements earned him recognition as Father of the Green Revolution and the distinction of receiving the Nobel Peace Prize and the Congressional Gold Medal, America’s highest civilian honor.

State Archives & Library Reading Room – 12:30-4:30 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday and 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday
The State Archives & Library offer a treasure trove of photographs, manuscripts and other documents for visitors pursuing academic research, genealogy and other interests. Library/archives reference staff provides assistance to visitors by directing them to pertinent collection guides, recommending sources of information, retrieving requested materials and filling some reproduction orders of original materials.

Café Baratta’s – Open 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Saturday
Enjoy a panoramic view of downtown Des Moines and the Capitol Building from Café Baratta’s third-floor terrace café. Customers enjoy a seasonal menu with classic bistro fare.

The State Historical Museum, the State Archives & Library Reading Room and Café Baratta’s are located at the State Historical Building, 600 E. Locust Street in Des Moines. Museum hours are 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday; noon-4:30 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. For more information, call 515-281-5111 or visit www.culturalaffairs.org or 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.



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