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State Historical Society of Iowa Press Release

For immediate release April 11, 2013

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

SHSI's "History for Lunch" lecture series April 24

The Delsarte Movement (1880-1920) and its influence on Meredith Wilson

(DES MOINES) – The State Historical Society of Iowa’s History for Lunch lecture series continues next week in Iowa City with a discussion about the Delsarte Movement (1880-1920) and the “Grecian Urns” it inspired for Meredith Willson’s “The Music Man.”

University of Iowa Professor Marian Wilson Kimber will discuss “Grecian Urns: The Posing Women Behind The Music Man” at noon on Wednesday, April 24, 2013, at the State Historical Society of Iowa’s Centennial Building, 402 Iowa Avenue in Iowa City. The presentation is free and open to the public. Seating is limited. Call 319-335-3911 for more information.

Between the late 1880s and 1920, Delsarte performances took place in more than 50 Iowa communities, characterized by women pursuing artistry, beauty and fitness by posing as Grecian statuary and pantomiming popular songs. The performances inspired Meredith Willson to have Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn and ladies of River City pose as “Grecian Urns” in the popular Broadway musical “The Music Man.”

As part of her presentation, Kimber will describe Iowa’s Delsarte performances and show rare photos from the State Historical Society of Iowa.

Kimber is an Associate Professor of Musicology at the University of Iowa. She has a book in progress, Feminine Entertainments:

Women, Music, and the Spoken Word, about the ways American women performers and composers combined speech and music in the late 19th century through the mid-20th century. She has also published widely on the lives and music of composers Felix Mendelssohn and Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel.


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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