Historical Museum to open "Caucus Iowa" exhibit Oct. 5
National Public Radio presidential debates at museum Dec. 3-4
Ben & Jerry to visit museum Oct. 17; (FREE ICE CREAM!)

For immediate release September 19, 2007

 

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

(DES MOINES) – The State Historical Museum will put Iowa's unique brand of citizen-democracy on display Oct. 5 when it opens "Caucus Iowa," a new 10,000-square-foot exhibit that explores the history of the Iowa caucuses.

Open through January 2009, the exhibit offers museum visitors a first-hand look at the Iowa caucuses - how they work, why they work, their affect on candidates and how they differ from every other step to the White House. It also features interactive polling kiosks, documentaries, a public issues forum and voter registration information.

"Every four years, the eyes of the nation and the world focus on Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses," said Cyndi Pederson, director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. "This exhibit explores and explains the caucus method from a historical perspective and creates an environment that lets people learn about our unique political process. It is a rare opportunity to demystify democracy at work and celebrate it as a viable and necessary step in our presidential process."

The State Historical Museum is at 600 E. Locust Street in Des Moines' Historic East Village. Hours are 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday and Noon-4:30 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free and open to the public. More information is available at www.iowahistory.org.

"Caucus Iowa" showcases the Iowa caucuses' rise to national prominence in the 1970s, explores "retail politics" in a typical coffee shop and recreates a gymnasium and living room on caucus night.

The exhibit also includes interactive kiosks where visitors can vote on issues and be part of a special straw poll of current candidates. The exhibit also examines the impact the media has had on transforming the caucuses into an international event, and a public forum space will be available to political campaigns, groups, organizations and schools for special programming.

"Overall, the exhibit tells the story of the Iowa caucuses and how seriously Iowans take their role in helping to winnow the field of presidential candidates," Pederson said. "It also showcases Iowa's best features - education, quality of life and superior workforce - to the nation and the world in a way that counters the stereotypical images we often see of our state on network and cable television news programs."

"Caucus Iowa" is funded through a public-private partnership between the State of Iowa and donations from businesses and individuals. "Caucus Iowa" sponsors are MidAmerican Energy Company, Principal Financial Group, US Center for Citizen Diplomacy, Iowa Business Council and WHO-TV. The "Caucus Iowa" Fundraising Committee's honorary co-chairs are Governor Chet Culver, Governor Thomas Vilsack, Governor Terry Branstad and Governor Robert Ray. Community and government partners include the Greater Des Moines Partnership, Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau, Drake University, Iowa Department of Economic Development and the Iowa Secretary of State's office.

The Museum's "Caucus Iowa" Advisory Board is co-chaired by former Iowa Democratic Party Chair Gordon Fischer and former Republican Party of Iowa Chair Steve Roberts. Additional board members include Eric Branstad, Lincoln Strategies; J Fink; Oskaloosa educator; James Flansburg, The Des Moines Register (retired); Jason Follet, Iowa State University; Millie Frese, educator; Dennis Goldford, Drake University; Teri Goodmann, City of Dubuque; Wayne Haskovec, educator; Gary Overla, Perry educator; Matthew Schaefer, Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum; Steffen Schmidt, Iowa State University; Peverill Squire, University of Iowa; Tim Walch, Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum; and Hugh Winebrenner, Drake University (professor emeritus).

Following are events being presented at the State Historical Museum (unless otherwise noted) in conjunction with the "Caucus Iowa" exhibit:

"Caucus Iowa Political Button Show" presented by the American Political Items Collectors
Oct. 6, 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m., free
APIC is a non-profit membership organization, dedicated to promoting the collection, preservation and study of materials relating to political campaigns and the U.S. presidency. Meet up to 15 individual collectors who will be sharing their vast political collections of pins and other memorabilia. APIC will also offer independent appraisals of political collectibles. In addition, author Brad Koplinski will be selling and signing his book, Hats in the Ring, a compendium of in-depth interviews with past presidential candidates.

"Caucus Get Together" presented by Young Professionals Connection of Des Moines
Time and date to be announced
The Young Professionals Connection of Des Moines will sponsor an after-hours tour of the "Caucus Iowa" exhibit and a program that will include mock-caucusing for members of both parties. Cash Bar available. Please visit www.ypcdsm.com for more information.

"Get on Board: Caucus Iowa" presented by Iowans for Sensible Priorities
Oct. 17, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., free
Ben and Jerry - yes, Ben and Jerry - will be in the "Caucus Iowa" public forum space to speak about Ben Cohen's non-partisan initiative, Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities. Guests are invited to bring a brown bag lunch, get on board the Topsy Turvy school bus, meet Ben and Jerry, and enjoy complimentary Ben & Jerry's ice cream. Iowans for Sensible Priorities is a project of Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities, a national organization founded in 1996 by Cohen of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream. Visit www.caucus4priorities.org for more information.

"Why Are We First?" panel discussion presented by Barnes & Noble
Nov. 2, 7 p.m., free
Barnes & Noble, West Des Moines
Guests are invited to Barnes & Noble, 4550 University Avenue in West Des Moines, for an informal discussion by local political and media experts who will look into Iowa's first-in-the-nation status and explore why this honor is well-deserved. Proceeds of a special Barnes & Noble Bookfair Nov. 2-4 will support the State Historical Society of Iowa. Call 515-221-9171 for information.

"Mark Halperin" talk and book signing presented by the State Historical Museum
Nov. 7, 6:30 p.m. reception; 7 p.m. event, free
Mark Halperin is TIME magazine editor-at-large. His new book, The Undecided Voter's Guide to the Next President, will be released Oct. 30. Halperin will talk about presidential politics including insights into this year's campaign. Books will be on sale and available for the author to sign after the program.

National Public Radio Presidential Candidates Debates at the State Historical Museum
Monday, Dec. 3 (Republicans) and Tuesday, Dec. 4 (Democrats), 2-4 p.m.
Event is not open to the public
The team from National Public Radio's All Things Considered will be in the "Caucus Iowa" forum space to host a debate with presidential candidates from both parties on two separate days.

"Caucus! The Musical"
Dec. 27, 2007-Jan. 13, 2008, times/ticket prices vary
"Caucus! The Musical" is a hilarious, irreverent and oftentimes politically incorrect look at the Iowa caucuses and how an undersized state plays an oversized role in the presidential nomination process. Group and single tickets are on sale at iowatix.com, by phone at 515-277-3727 and at all Iowatix outlets. Ticket prices range from $12 to $28. Visit www.caucusthemusical.com for more information. ("Caucus! The Musical" contains language and subject matter that may not be suitable for children 12 years old and younger.)

The State Historical Society of Iowa is a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and is 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. Visit www.iowahistory.org or call 515-281-5111 for more information.

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