RV history museumThe State Historical Museum of Iowa’s new traveling museum will be on the Wartburg College campus Oct. 13-14.

The mobile museum — a bright blue, custom-built Winnebago — will be outside Neumann Auditorium Friday, Oct. 13, 4-8 p.m., and Saturday, Oct. 14, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., as part of the college’s Homecoming and Family Weekend celebration.

The museum on wheels houses a 300-square-foot exhibition called “Iowa History 101.”

“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,” said Susan Kloewer, State Historical Society of Iowa administrator. “So we’re delighted to bring this traveling exhibition to Waverly, and we encourage all Iowans to learn about our state’s rich heritage.”

The exhibition unpacks stories of Iowa’s past with nearly 50 artifacts from the State Historical Society’s collection, including:

  • A battered hat from a coal miner in Boone. 
  • A 1917 prototype of the state flag designed by Dixie Cornell Gebhardt of Knoxville.
  • The pen Gov. William Harding used to sign the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote.
  • A basketball jersey Lynne Lorenzen wore during her glory days at Ventura High School.
  • An Olympic medal from sprinter Natasha Kaiser-Brown of Des Moines.
  • A patch from a spacesuit worn by astronaut Peggy Whitson of Beaconsfield. 
  • As a bonus, 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 that they wanted new ways to access the State Historical Museum’s resources even if they couldn’t visit Des Moines in person.

    Accordingly, the 38-foot Winnebago will visit all 99 Iowa counties over the course of three years, from 2017 through 2019, with stops at schools, libraries, local museums, community festivals, county fairs and other places where Iowans gather. Anyone who would like to request a visit can find the 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 both a traditional museum exhibition and an interactive Hands-On History Gallery designed especially for children.

    More information is available at iowaculture.gov or 515-281-5111.