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Local

History 101: Mobile museum puts guests in the driver’s seat for a stroll down memory lane

The State Historical Society of Iowa is on the road for 3 years, making its way around Illinois' neighbor to the west. From May 31 until June 6, "Iowa History 101" will be at the Putnam Museum & Science Center in Davenport, Iowa.
The State Historical Society of Iowa is on the road for 3 years, making its way around Illinois' neighbor to the west. From May 31 until June 6, "Iowa History 101" will be at the Putnam Museum & Science Center in Davenport, Iowa.

The State Historical Society of Iowa has a new way to get the state’s history out into the world – history on wheels.

A big blue bus will bring its “Iowa History 101” exhibit to the Putnam Museum & Science Center for a crash course (without a crash, of course!) in the state’s past. 

From May 31 to June 6, the Winnebago will be parked at the museum. The bus goes along Iowa’s main drags and country roads, spreading the word about the Iowa history.

The vehicle houses a 300-square-foot display filled with artifacts from the society’s collection.

“We are honored that the State Historical Society thought to bring the mobile museum to the Putnam and the Quad City community,” Kim Findlay, president and CEO of the Putnam, said in a news release. “It’s a great opportunity for everyone to experience some of the essential stories that every Iowan should know.”

It’s also a great opportunity for Illinoisans to find out more about their neighbor to the west. 

Displays in the roving museum include a hat worn by a coal miner in Boone – it’s a bit out of shape; an Olympic medal from Natasha Kaiser-Brown of Des Moines, a sprinter; a spacesuit patch worn by astronaut Peggy Whitson of Beaconsfield; and Gov. William Harding’s pen, which was used when he signed the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote.

Fans of TV’s “American Pickers” will be delighted to find the video talents and voice of Mike Wolfe in the exhibit’s multimedia parts. According to the news release, he has a long-standing interest in history and a knack for using artifacts to unlock its stories.

The mobile museum, which also has an interactive hands-on history gallery for children, will roll along through Iowa for 3 years. It will stop at county fairs, libraries and museums.

While you’re there, pop on by the Putnam and check out some of its hands-on exhibits – 45 of them alone are in its science center. 

One doesn’t just walk in and walk out. Oh no, not with a large tug-of-war lever to try out or pull-yourself-up pulley just waiting for a yank.

Whether the weather’s warm or fickle-spring cool, the mobile museum and the Putnam make a perfect pair of destinations for learning more about Hawkeye State history and more. 

IF YOU GO ...

What: Iowa History 101 mobile museum

When: May 31 to June 6

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, which also are the Putnam Museum & Science Center hours

Where: The Putnam Museum & Science Center, 1717 W. 12th St., Davenport, Iowa

Cost: Free tours

Information: 563-336-7293 or email Christina Kastell at ckastell@putnam.org

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