Museum > Museum Exhibits

Temporary Displays & Exhibits

Saving Our Stuff

Second Floor Gallery
Featuring nearly 100 artifacts selected from the State Historical Museum’s subterranean, climate-controlled collections storage facility, this 2,300-square-foot exhibition showcases a wide variety of objects from the museum’s permanent collection – papers, metals/silver, clay pottery/stoneware, natural history specimens, wood furniture and more – in various stages of conservation treatment.

Visitors can watch a museum conservator work on a 1927 piano from Des Moines’ Orpheum Theatre, learn the differences between “restoration” and “stabilization,” and discover why some artifacts are best left untouched, including the pot used to make “Big Daddy’s” barbecue sauce.

Civil War: Nothing But Victory

First Floor Gallery
With more than 300 authentic artifacts and documents, this 10,000 square-foot exhibition recounts the first-hand experiences of Iowans at war and the communities that supported them. See the historic battle flags Iowa soldiers carried and the actual weaponry – cannons, guns and swords – they used while fighting in some of the most important events and turning points of the Civil War.
Click here for exhibit page.

A Service to Silver: Tribute to the USS Iowa

This 40-piece silver service was presented by Iowa to the U.S. Navy in 1896 for the then newly-commissioned USS Iowa battleship.

Curator’s Choice: The Art of Model Making

exhibit photo3rd floor west
Model building is a popular pastime for many people. See some rare, fine examples of models including ships, buildings and steam powered engines.




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