ELDON ? If you can?t make it to the State Historical Museum in Des Moines, why not let it come to Eldon?
That?s the idea behind the State Historical Society of Iowa?s ?History on the Move? mobile museum, a bright blue, custom-built Winnebago that travels the state?s highways and back roads to share stories from the past. The museum on wheels currently houses a 300-square-foot exhibition called ?Iowa History 101? and is filled with artifacts from the State Historical Society?s collection.
The mobile museum will offer free self-guided tours 10 a.m.-5 p.m. June 8-9 and 1-4 p.m. June 10 in conjunction with Gothic Days at the American Gothic House, which is owned by the State Historical Society of Iowa and located at 300 American Gothic Street in Eldon. Visitors can make artwork of their own in the little white house that Grant Wood made famous and participate in the State Historical Society?s 2018 Summer Passport Program.
?This exhibition shares some of the essential stories that every Iowan should know about who we are and what we?ve achieved since Iowa became a state more than 170 years ago,? State Historical Society of Iowa Administrator Susan Kloewer said. ?We?re delighted to bring this traveling exhibition to Eldon and the American Gothic House, and we encourage all Iowans to learn about our state?s rich heritage.?
Like a visit to a grandparent?s attic, the exhibition unpacks stories of Iowa?s past with nearly 50 artifacts, including:
? battered miner?s cap worn by Carl Coghlan, a Marion County coal miner
? 1917 prototype of the state flag designed by Dixie Cornell Gebhardt of Knoxville
? pen Gov. William Harding used to ratify the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote
? basketball jersey Lynne Lorenzen wore during her glory days at Ventura High School
? Olympic medal from sprinter Natasha Kaiser-Brown of Des Moines
? patch from a spacesuit worn by astronaut Peggy Whitson of Beaconsfield
Mike Wolfe, the creator and star of the hit television series ?American Pickers,? lent his voice and video talents to the exhibition?s multimedia elements. A native of Le Claire, Wolfe has a long-standing interest in history and a knack for using artifacts to unlock its stories.
The idea for the mobile museum emerged in 2014 from a series of community conversations organized by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, which oversees the State Historical Society. Iowans who care deeply about history made it clear they want new ways to access the State Historical Museum?s resources.
Accordingly, the 38-foot Winnebago will visit all 99 Iowa counties over three years, from 2017 through 2019, with stops at schools, libraries, local museums, community festivals, county fairs and other places Iowans gather. To request a visit, find details online at iowaculture.gov, along with an updated schedule. Follow the RV?s statewide journey on Facebook at facebook.com/IowaHistory.
The traveling exhibition ? which is sponsored by EMC Insurance Companies, Casey?s General Stores and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach ? is one of a trio of ?Iowa History 101? shows. Visitors to the State Historical Museum in Des Moines can find a traditional museum exhibition and an interactive ?Hands-On History? gallery for children.
Information is available at iowaculture.gov or 515-281-5111.