Jeff Morgan, Jeff.Morgan@iowa.gov, (515)
(DES MOINES) –
The State Historical Museum announced today it is extending the run of its popular
History Hunter Tours into next year.
The curator-led tours
have been highly successful since their introduction in December 2004, taking
visitors through the museum’s subterranean, climate-controlled “vault”
where more than 100,000 artifacts and 200 Civil War battle flags are preserved
“Because our collection
is so extensive, we can only put about 10 percent of it on display at any given
time,” Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Director Anita Walker said. “So
we opened up the vault last year for tours in response to the public’s requests
to see more of the collection. It marked the first time the public has had direct
access to the entire permanent collection in 114 years and we’re still going
Tours of the Permanent
Collection are offered at 10:30 a.m. on January 21, February 18, March 18 and
April 15. Tickets are $12 per person, $8 for children 3-12 years old. Children
under two are free.
Tours of the Battle Flag
Preservation Laboratory are offered at 1:30 p.m. on January 21, February 18, March
18 and April 15. Tickets are $20 per person, $18 for members of the State Historical
Society of Iowa. Due to the highly sensitive nature of the work involved with
stabilizing and preserving Iowa’s historic battle flags, each tour is limited
to 10 participants age 12 and older.
Reservations are available
by calling 515-283-1757 or visiting the State Historical Building’s museum
store at 600 E. Locust Street in Des Moines. In addition, weekday group tour reservations
are available by contacting Hillary Liepa at 515-281-3809 or Hillary.Liepa@iowa.gov.
The State Historical Building is open Monday to Saturday 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and
Sunday noon to 4:30 p.m.
The permanent collection,
established in 1892 and originally housed in the State Capitol Building, had been
in the Ola Babcock Miller Building from 1899 to 1987 before moving to its current
location at 600 E. Locust Street.
The museum maintains many
types of artifacts, including Civil War battle flags, natural history artifacts,
textiles and clothing, quilts (including the famous Mary Barton Quilt Research
Collection), political campaign and Iowa Caucus materials and Native American
The variety of the collection
is broad and diverse, reflecting nearly every aspect of human and natural history
in Iowa. Among the many unusual and interesting items, the museum currently has
a log cabin, vintage cars, and square grand pianos – even a can of Spam.
Iowans’ interaction with the natural world is also reflected in specimens
from the animal world, including preserved animals and dioramas dating back to
the mid-1800s, and a white deer.
The tours also showcase
historic road signs, a prehistoric animal burrow, a stuffed rooster – “Jack
Pershing,” used by Iowa farmers to raise funds during World War I for the
Red Cross – old cars, an early Iowa State Patrol motorcycle, antique furniture
and the huge neon Traveler’s Life sign that had been a downtown Des Moines
landmark for generations.
In the Battle Flag Preservation
Laboratory, museum conservators are stabilizing and preserving U.S. national colors,
regimental flags, banners and Cavalry 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.
The vast majority of these
flags were last seen by the public in the 1890s. Some of them appear relatively
intact while others are severely damaged. Left unchecked, this damage eventually
would have grown to become greater than what the flags endured in battle.
The Iowa Historical Foundation,
the private, nonprofit 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 historians have
already made contributions. For information on making a contribution, please contact
the Iowa Historical Foundation, 600 E. Locust, Des Moines, Iowa 50319, or call
The State Historical Museum
is part of 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.
to What's New Section