Last week, the “Iowa History 101” multimedia exhibit housed in a custom built Winnebago RV made its way to Iowa State University. The traveling exhibit comes from the State Historical Museum of Iowa. The RV was parked in front of the Parks Library all last week & library staff volunteered to serve as museum docents. I’ve included their comments and favorite things about the exhibit below.
From Brad Kuennen, University Archivist
Spent two hours in the RV today. I spoke with one visitor who was surprised to learn that Iowa had a coal mining industry. Personally I enjoyed reading about the different aspects of Iowa history that are on display.
From Kris Stacy-Bates, Science and Technology, Associate Professor, Research and Instruction
I enjoyed learning that Iowa is the best thing since sliced bread—as the home of the patent holder for the first successful commercial bread slicer. My favorite artifact was the crayon-on-fabric prototype for the Iowa state flag. I did wish that exhibit had included a small graphic of the final flag, as a pair of visitors commented that they did not remember exactly how it looks now.
Bonus fact mentioned later in the week: I spotted a reference today to International Space Station news, noting the fact that Peggy Whitson, the Iowa astronaut mentioned in the Iowa History traveling exhibit, is currently on the space station and just completed a spacewalk yesterday:
Dr. Whitson has spent more time in space, and more time on spacewalks, than any other American woman.
From Linda Snook, Resource Sharing and Acquisitions Management, Library Assistant, Collections and Technical Services
The information in the RV display is interesting. I hope a lot of people take the chance to browse the display. I didn’t realize that more Iowans trace their heritage back to German ancestors than any other foreign country. Also, I discovered that the developer of the Eskimo Pie was an Iowan.
From Olivia Garrison, Reference Coordinator, Special Collections & University Archives
I think having a mini-museum on a Winnebago is such a great way to bring history to people who would otherwise not be able to make it to the museum. People don’t have to go out of their way, it’s brought to them!
From Lori Kappmeyer, Metadata and Cataloging, Associate Professor, Collections and Technical Services
One of my observations is that I didn’t realize that some things I grew up with are now considered appropriate for museums. I never imagined that a Cabbage Patch doll, a Game Boy, a Gateway laptop computer and a 1965 telephone would someday be on exhibit as “historic.” Another observation is that I hadn’t realized as a volunteer that we were going to be given so much responsibility for managing the opening and closing of this expensive vehicle on its maiden trip outside of Des Moines. I now know how to arm a security system and check a propane tank, something I had never done before.
From Greg Davis, Assessment and Planning, Assistant Director, Library Administration Services
I liked the “Rose of Sharon” pattern quilt made by Elsie Smith. One of my grandmothers, here in Iowa, was a quilter. I can remember going to her home and seeing her in her rocking chair, working on her latest quilt project. She’s passed on now, but the rocking chair is in my home with one of her quilts draped over it.
I also thought the exhibit about the Consolidated Coal Company in Buxton, IA, was a really good example of how diverse cultures, in this case African Americans and Euro-Americans, have lived and worked together in Iowa.
For more information on the traveling exhibit, visit: https://iowaculture.gov/history/museum/exhibits/history-on-the-move.