Historical Museum offers guided tour of exhibits July 15

For immediate release July 6, 2006


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

(DES MOINES) – The State Historical Museum will offer a guided tour of its exhibits July 15, a move designed to complement its highly successful History Hunter Tours of the battle flag laboratory and permanent collection.

On July 15 at 11 a.m., museum staff and docents will lead visitors through three different exhibits including “Mammoth: Witness to Change,” “The Delicate Balance: Human Values and Iowa’s Natural Resources” and “You Gotta Know the Territory.” The State Historical Building is at 600 E. Locust Street in the heart of Des Moines’ Historic East Village. Tour admission is $5 per person. More information is available by contacting Sarah Macht at 515-242-5193 or sarah.macht@iowa.gov. Reservations are strongly recommended by calling the Iowa Museum Store at 515-283-1757.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our visitors to learn more about Iowa’s rich history from highly trained staff and docents,” said Anita Walker, director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. “Combined with the tours of our battle flag lab and permanent collection, the guided exhibit tour will give Iowans and others a broad range of choices that provide meaningful and lasting experiences. We’re very excited to make this opportunity available to the public.”

“Mammoth: Witness to Change” is a three-year-old exhibit featuring the skeleton of the Hebior Mammoth, discovered near Kenosha, Wis., in 1994. Visitors can see, hear and feel life as it was 15,000 to 16,000 years ago. Standing nearly 12 feet tall and more than 20 feet long, the Hebior Mammoth spent its last hours tormented by the new predator – humans. This mammoth is considered the most complete skeleton found in the upper Midwest, with about 85 percent of it uncovered and preserved.

More recently, construction of the Allied Insurance and Farmland Insurance headquarters in downtown Des Moines provided a glimpse back into the Pleistocene era. A giant auger cut 55 feet below the city into the body of a mammoth. Fragments of the shoulder area were recovered from the body that had been undisturbed for 16,500 years. With generous support from Dickson Industries and Allied Insurance, “Mammoth: Witness to Change” provides the visual story of these and other remnants of the Ice Age through educational displays, artifacts and materials.

“The Delicate Balance: Human Values and Iowa’s Natural Resources” looks at how people have used Iowa’s natural resources from prehistoric times to the present. The exhibit features Native American collections, wildlife and fossils. Tour participants can stand in a cramped coal mine, listen to miners at work and drill a shot hole into the coal. They can also investigate “Walk in Beauty,” a study case of moccasins and beadwork.

“You Gotta Know the Territory” examines Iowa’s early years before statehood (1838-1846), focusing on native cultures, immigration, farming, town life and human rights. Tour participants can push a plow, try a two-person saw and watch a video that narrates the diary of a young girl traveling west to Iowa in a covered wagon.

Tours of the permanent collection offer a behind-the-scenes look at the museum’s “vault,” a subterranean, climate-controlled storage center that houses more than 100,000 artifacts. Tour participants can see a log cabin, cars, an early Iowa State Patrol motorcycle, tons of antique furniture and more. Tours of the permanent collection are offered the third Saturday of every month at 10:30 a.m. Admission is $12 for adults and $8 for children 7-12.

Tours of the battle flag laboratory reveal the process museum staff uses to stabilize and conserve flags that are more than 130 years old, many of which hung in the State Capitol Rotunda. Battle flag laboratory staff offer an entertaining and educational presentation on how the flags are meticulously assessed, stabilized and preserved for storage and future display. Battle flag laboratory tours are offered the third Saturday of each month at 1:30 p.m. Due to the highly sensitive nature of the work involved, tours are limited to 10 participants age 16 and older. Admission is $20.

Reservations can be made by calling 515-283-1757. State Historical Society of Iowa members receive a 10 percent discount. Please call 515-281-5111 or visit www.iowahistory.org for membership information. Weekday group tours of the permanent collection and battle flag laboratory are available by calling 515-281-3809.

Individuals interested in becoming docent tour guides should contact Sarah Macht at 515-242-5193 or sarah.macht@iowa.gov.

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. Please visit www.iowahistory.org or call 515-281-5111 for more information.


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