A Road Trip For The Ages

State Curator Leo Landis greets a visitor to the State Historical Society of Iowa’s mobile museum. Photo: Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs

The State Historical Society of Iowa’s mobile museum hits the road again (after a 16-month pit stop during the pandemic) to visit this weekend’s Pomeroy Sesquicentennial.

Housed in a custom-built Winnebago, the brand-new exhibition “Iowa History 101: Iowa’s People & Places” explores 13,000 years of history with 56 artifacts from the brick-and-mortar State Historical Museum in Des Moines.

The museum on wheels will visit all 99 Iowa counties from this weekend through 2023, similar to its first three-year tour with an earlier exhibition from 2017 through 2019. The first tour made 175 stops across all 99 counties and attracted nearly 65,000 visitors, including 11,400 students.

“Our first statewide tour was an enormous success, and Iowans let us know they wanted this traveling museum to keep rolling with another exhibition,” says Susan Kloewer, administrator of the State Historical Society of Iowa. “We’re eager to take this history experience back on the road and to share more stories with Iowans.”

Highlights from the new display include a silver token from the Hudson Bay Co. from the early 1800s, Iowa first lady Jane Kirkwood’s knitting needles, a Meskwaki cradleboard, a menu from Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev’s 1959 visit to Iowa, an Iowa State women’s track uniform from 1972 (the year Title IX took effect), former Des Moines Water Works Director L.D. McMullen’s boots from the flood of 1993, and a space suit worn by astronaut Peggy Whitson, who grew up in Beaconsfield.

See it all for yourself in Pomeroy (July 9-11), Columbus Junction (July 27-31), Britt (Aug. 6-8), Wilton (Aug. 20-22), Shenandoah (Sept. 25) and Lamoni (Oct. 3).

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