Special packaged tour of Honor the Colors exhibit and Civil War artifacts offered for Veterans Day; additional History Hunter tours announced for holiday season

For immediate release October 25, 2005

 

 

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

(DES MOINES) – A specially packaged tour of the Honor the Colors exhibit and Civil War artifacts highlights the State Historical Museum’s “History Hunter” holiday season tour schedule announced today. Other tours on the schedule will focus on Victorian life, quilts, battle flags and the museum’s permanent collection, which contains more than 100,000 artifacts.

On Veterans Day, Friday, November 11, 2005, Curator William M. Johnson will lead a special “History Hunter” tour through the museum’s Honor the Colors exhibit and subterranean, climate-controlled “vault” to see additional Civil War artifacts, some of which have never been seen by the public. Following the tour, an archivist will discuss Civil War documents preserved in the State Archives and Library. The tour will begin at 10:30 a.m. The State Historical Museum will be open regular hours, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Veterans Day.

The Honor the Colors exhibit explores Iowa’s connection to the Civil War (1861-1865), during which more than half of the men in the state left their homes and families to serve in distant battle fields for their homeland and ideals. Honor the Colors tells their story of sacrifice and dedication. In their own words, Iowa soldiers tell who they were, how they were equipped and why they fought. The exhibit includes more than 350 objects including weapons, uniforms, artillery and original art. In addition, examples of battle flags recently conserved through the Iowa Battle Flag Preservation Project will be featured.

Conservation work on the battle flags began in earnest about five years ago when the museum asked Fonda Thomson, a nationally known conservator, to examine Iowa’s Civil War Battle Flags. Her initial assessment found “the silk flags are brittle but conservable, to save them they must be removed from their staffs and laid flat in a controlled environment; the silk flags are deteriorating each day they remain in their present environment.”

The flags had accumulated dust and dirt, and excessive lighting and the stress of hanging in display cases gradually weakened the fabrics so they no longer supported their own weight. Museum staff and other experts removed the flags from display cases and transported them to the State Historical Building where they are now being stabilized, preserved and prepared for display.

The flags needing the most help include U.S. national colors, regimental flags, banners and Calvary guildons from the Civil War that were housed – some for more than 100 years – in four display cases in the Capitol rotunda. Most are silk flags with painted decorations and gold fringe.

Rather then preserving the flags, conservators in the 1890s machine sewed a layer of cotton gauze on each side of the flags to provide support. The gauze is brittle and fractured and no longer provides support but adds more weight, and therefore more stress to the flag fabrics. Some flags appear to be relatively intact while others are severely fractured with large areas of loss. Left unchecked, this damage eventually would have been greater than what the flags endured in battle.

On Saturday, November 12, 2005, Chief Curator Michael Smith will lead a special “History Hunter” tour through the museum’s collection of Victorian-era furniture, finery, pottery and china at 1:30 p.m. This tour is being offered as part of the museum’s Discover Victorian Iowa Family Day, which also has a number of additional family and children’s events scheduled in conjunction with its Discover Victorian Iowa exhibit.

The museum began offering History Hunter tours nearly a year ago, giving the public unprecedented access to its entire permanent collection for the first time in 114 years. The tours have been enormously popular, prompting the museum to extend the schedule through the end of this year. The History Hunter holiday season tour schedule announced today includes:

  • November 11, 2005
    Special-Subject: Honor the Colors/Civil War tour – 10:30 a.m.
    $20 adults and children age 12 and older only
  • November 12, 2005
    Special-Subject: Discover Victorian Life tour – 1:30 p.m.
    (furniture, pottery, china, finery)
    $20 adults and children age 12 and older only
  • November 19, 2005
    Permanent Collection tour – 10:30 a.m.
    $12 adults/$8 children 7-12 only
  • Battle Flags tour – 1:30 p.m.
    $12 adults/$8 children 7-12 only
  • December 17, 2005
    Permanent Collection tour – 10:30 a.m.
    $12 adults/$8 children 7-12 only
  • Battle Flags tour – 1:30 p.m.
    $12 adults/$8 children 7-12 only
  • December 27, 2005
    Permanent Collection tour – 10:30 a.m.
    $12 adults/$8 children 7-12 only
  • Special-Subject: Quilts tour – 1:30 p.m.
    $20 adults and children age 12 and older only
  • December 28, 2005
    Permanent Collection tour – 10:30 a.m.
    $12 adults/$8 children 7-12 only
  • Special-Subject: Honor the Colors/Civil War tour – 1:30 p.m.
    $20 adults and children age 12 and older only
  • December 29, 2005
    Permanent Collection tour – 10:30 a.m.
    $12 adults/$8 children 7-12 only
  • Special-Subject: Quilts tour – 1:30 p.m.
    $20 adults and children age 12 and older only

Admission for the special-subject tours is $20 for people 12 and older. Only children 12 and older will be allowed due to the sensitive nature of the materials covered during each tour. Admission for the other tours is $12 for adults, $8 for children 7-12. Only children 7 and older will be allowed on the tour. Reservations can be made at 515-283-1757, on-line at museum.store@iowa.gov or in person at The Museum Store located inside the State Historical Building at 600 E. Locust Street. Weekday group tours can be reserved by calling 515-281-3809.Members of the State Historical Society of Iowa receive a 10 percent discount.

History Hunter tours sell out quickly; the public is encouraged to make reservations in advance. Proceeds provide funding for care and preservation of the State Historical Museum collection. More information about the State Historical Society of Iowa exhibits and programs can be found at www.iowahistory.org.

The Iowa Historical Foundation, the private, non-profit fundraising arm of the State Historical Society of Iowa, has established a restricted account to receive contributions for the flag project. Individuals, veteran's organizations, and many Civil War living historians have already made contributions to the project. For information on making a contribution, please contact the Iowa Historical Foundation, 600 E. Locust, Des Moines, Iowa 50319, or call 515-281-5111.

 

###

Return to What's New Section

 

 

shsi homepage report technical problems
 

 

Privacy Statement Copyright and Disclaimer Notice Read about the State of Iowa Network Contact the State of Iowa Network Search the State of Iowa Network Go to the State of Iowa Network Help Desk Go to the State of Iowa Network News Go to the State of Iowa Home Page