Battle flags exhibit held over; preservation lab tour April 15

For immediate release April 7, 2006

 

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

(DES MOINES) –Due to popular demand, the State Historical Museum announced today its “Civil War Survivors: Battle Flags Tell Stories from the Front” exhibit will be held over through summer.

Originally scheduled to close April 16, the exhibit will continue with high quality images of the seven Civil War battle flags it features. Museum staff will return the seven recently preserved flags to storage the week of April 17 to prevent deterioration from light and fluctuating climate conditions.

“This exhibit is extremely popular, one of the most successful exhibits we’ve had in recent years,” said Anita Walker, director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. “Because the flags are so fragile and could possibly sustain further damage from continued exposure, we must return them to storage where they will be kept in a climate-controlled environment. As the state agency responsible for preserving and sharing Iowa’s history, we’re keeping the exhibit open with high quality images of the flags to give visitors an opportunity to learn about them and the soldiers who fought and died while serving under them.”

On April 15, visitors will have an opportunity to see where the flags are stored by touring the Battle Flag Preservation Laboratory, located 20 feet below the museum in a subterranean vault. The tour is at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 per person/$18 for SHSI members. Due to the sensitive nature of the work conducted in the laboratory, the tour is limited to 10 participants age 7 and older. Reservations are strongly encouraged and can be made by calling 515-283-1757, by e-mail at museum.store@iowa.gov or at the Iowa Museum Store Monday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday noon-4:30 p.m. Weekday group reservations can be made by contacting Hillary Liepa at 515-281-3809 or hillary.liepa@iowa.gov.

Iowa’s historic battle flag collection includes 260 flags borne by Iowa regiments and batteries during the Civil War, Spanish-American War and World War I. The vast majority of the Civil War battle flags were last seen by the public in the 1890s. Since then, sunlight, smoke and heavy gauze used to support each flag has caused damage, some of it severe. If left unchecked, the damage eventually would have become greater than what the flags suffered in battle. On average, it takes conservators about 240 hours to preserve a flag, and up to 8,000 stitches are individually and carefully cut by hand to remove the gauze. Each flag costs about $4,800 to stabilize and preserve.

In addition, the museum will offer a tour of its permanent collection at 10:30 a.m. April 15. The permanent collection tour is $12 for adults/$8 for ages 7-12 and limited to 20 people per tour. Members of the State Historical Society of Iowa receive a 10 percent discount. Reservations are strongly encouraged and can be made by calling 515-283-1757, by e-mail at museum.store@iowa.gov or at the Iowa Museum Store Monday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday noon-4:30 p.m. Weekday group reservations can be made by contacting Hillary Liepa at 515-281-3809 or hillary.liepa@iowa.gov.

The State Historical Museum is at 600 E. Locust Street in the heart of Des Moines’ Historic East Village. Hours are 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday and noon-4:30 p.m. Sunday.

The State Historical Museum is operated by the State Historical Society of Iowa, a trustee of Iowa’s historical legacy and an advocate for understanding Iowa’s past. It identifies, records, collects, preserves, manages and provides access to Iowa’s historical resources. Its dual mission of preservation and education serves Iowans of all ages, conducts and stimulates research, disseminates information, and encourages and supports historical preservation and education efforts of others throughout the state. The State Historical Society of Iowa is a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.

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