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State Historical Society of Iowa Press Release

For immediate release April 23, 2013

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

Department of Cultural Affairs announces Leo Landis as new museum curator

(DES MOINES) – The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs today announced Leo Landis has been named Museum Curator for the State Historical Museum of Iowa.

In his new position, Landis takes over responsibility for the State Historical Museum’s permanent collection, which totals nearly 110,000 artifacts and other historical assets held in a climate-controlled storage facility beneath the State Historical Building and at several historic sites across the state.

Among his first assignments, Landis is curating the State Historical Museum’s upcoming exhibit, “Riding Through History,” which opens July 19, 2013, and celebrates Iowa’s cycling history, communities and people through artifacts and stories including the RAGBRAI experience.

“We are delighted and very pleased to have Leo joining us in this position,” DCA Director Mary Cownie said. “His education and background with Iowa history will be valuable assets as we move forward with developing a wide range of new and exciting exhibits and programs for Iowans to experience.”

A native of Clive, Landis comes to the State Historical Museum after a three-year stint as curator and director of education at the Salisbury House in Des Moines. His previous work experience includes seven years at Living History Farms in Urbandale as a historical interpreter and Director of Interpretation; three years as a curator at Conner Prairie in Fishers, Ind.; and eight years as a curator at Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Mich.

Landis received his Bachelor of Science in History from Iowa State University and his Masters of Arts in Historical Administration from Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Ill. He has completed all but his dissertation toward a Ph.D. in History from Iowa State University.

He received a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship to attend the Collections Care Training Program at the University of Delaware and was named an outstanding graduate alumnus of Eastern Illinois University.

His book, “Building Better Roads: Iowa’s Contribution to Highway Engineering,” received a nomination for the 1998 Benjamin F. Shambaugh Award from the State Historical Society of Iowa as one of the best books in Iowa history. He is active in and serves on the board of the Iowa Museum Association, and is active in the American Association for State & Local History and American Alliance of Museums.

In addition, he has appeared as a guest discussing museums on National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation, ABC’s Weekend Good Morning America, and American Public Television’s Great Museums, as well as in local media.

With a strong appreciation of Iowa’s food traditions, Landis also serves as “The Bacon Professor” for the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival in Des Moines.


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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