Iowa Science & Cultural Museums

PUTNAM MUSEUM.  1717 W. 12th St., Davenport. (563) 324-1933. Walk through a cave, explore the insides of a huge oak tree, view a 718-gallon aquarium, see a 3500-year-old mummy.  Take-Apart Studio. Explore the inner workings of clocks, phones, printers, and more at a work bench complete with the tools and safety equipment needed for a fun and engaging experience. Then create something new with the parts! Alien Worlds and Androids. Created with the help of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the exhibit allows visitors to join in scientists’ search for alien life within and beyond our solar system. Discover strange alien-like creatures here on earth and learn about the technology used to explore remote solar systems and extreme environments on earth. Included are familiar characters such as Iron Man, C3PO, and more! Ongoing. River, Prairie, and People. Step back in time and discover what the Quad Cities were like for its earliest inhabitants—and how the Mississippi River helped form the community. Permanent exhibit.

NATIONAL CZECH & SLOVAK MUSEUM. 1400 Inspiration Place SW, Cedar Rapids. (319)-362-8500. 

GERMAN AMERICAN HERITAGE CENTER.  712 W. 2nd St., Davenport. (563) 322-8844. Explore  emigration from the European side.

STATE HISTORICAL MUSEUM OF IOWA. 600 E. Locust St., Des Moines. (515) 281-5111. (515) 281-5111. Freedom Summer 1964: Two Iowans and the Campaign for Civil Rights in Mississippi. Freedom Summer 1964 was a ten-week campaign to register African-American voters in Mississippi. Gain insight into this revolutionary time through Rev. Thomason’s photographs and essays. Mammoth: Witness to Change. Mammoth bones discovered in Des Moines in 2001 are on display. Saving Our Stuff. Featuring nearly 100 artifacts selected from the museum’s subterranean, climate-controlled storage facility, this 2,300 square-foot exhibition showcases a wide variety of objects from the museum’s permanent collection. Civil War: Nothing But Victory. See the historic battle flags Iowa soldiers carried and the actual cannons, guns, and swords they used while fighting in some of the most impactful turning points of the Civil War.  Riding Through History. Explore the history of cycling in Iowa through artifacts, stories, photos, videos, and a bicycle from 1869. A Service to Silver: Tribute to the USS Iowa. This 40-piece silver service was presented by Iowa to the U.S. Navy in 1896 for the then newly commissioned USS Iowa battleship. Up from the Depths: The Story of Iowa Coal. Ongoing. Norman E. Borlaug. An Iowa native and one of only three Americans ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, Congressional Gold Medal, and Presidential Medal of Freedom, Dr. Borlaug also received the National Medal of Science for his work on decreasing global hunger. Ongoing. Museum Trek. Take a closer look at the exhibits. Every Saturday 11 a.m.–noon. 

GROUT MUSEUM OF HISTORY & SCIENCE. 503 S. St., Waterloo. (319) 234-6357. Science and history exhibits, planetarium shows. 

HERBERT HOOVER PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY, West Branch. (319) 643-5301. Learn about the Iowa-born president.  Learn how World War I dramatically altered the life of Herbert Hoover, from successful mining engineer to “The Great Humanitarian.” On the grounds visitors can tour President Hoover’s birthplace cottage, a blacksmith shop, a Quaker Meeting house, and a schoolhouse.

LIVING HISTORY FARMS, 11121 Hickman Rd., Urbandale. (515) 278-5286.

AFRICAN AMERICAN MUSEUM OF IOWA. 55 12th Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids. (319) 862-2101. 

BRUCEMORE MANSION. 2160 Linden Dr. SE, Cedar Rapids. (319) 362-7375.  Brucemore Mansion Tours. The 21-room mansion hosts guided tours through December. Explore over a century of Cedar Rapids history through the lives of the three families who called Brucemore home—the Sinclairs, the Douglases, and the Halls. They were business and community leaders during a century of evolution in the Midwest. An investigation of the mansion’s Queen Anne architecture, 1925 Grant Wood Porch, 1929 Skinner pipe organ, and 1930s Grizzly Bar and Tahitian Room reflect the history of remarkable people. The changes they made to their estate, the impact they had on their community, and the stories they left behind shape our understanding of modern Cedar Rapids, eastern Iowa, and the American Midwest. Iowa Manufacturing: A Family Portrait. Renowned industrial photographer Torkel Korling captures the gritty and majestic spirit of mid-century, industrial Cedar Rapids. Ongoing. Mansion tours: March through December, Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 3:00 p.m. Tours begin on the hour and last approximately 50 minutes. Admission is $7.00 for adults, and $3.00 for youth.

OLD CAPITAL MUSEUM. 21 N. Clinton St, Iowa City, (319) 335-0548. Admission free, closed Mondays. 

AMERICAN GOTHIC HOUSE CENTER. 300 American Gothic St., Eldon. (641) 652-3352. View the Center’s Grant Wood lithograph Fruits, made during his last few years of work. Visitors will learn about the history behind this series of lithographs and its relationship to the Great Depression.

BLUEDORN SCIENCE IMAGINARIUM.  322 Washington St., Waterloo. (319) 233-8708. A playground for the imagination. Hands-on activities and exhibits.  ROBOTIX. Use your imagination to build futuristic machines and creatures on the ROBOTIX table, then just add power to make them go. Science Demonstrations. Various topics on Wednesdays and Saturdays. 

Beautiful Native American items from the W. W. Junkin collection are on display at the Carnegie Museum in Fairfield, Iowa.

CARNEGIE HISTORICAL MUSEUM. 112 S. Court, Fairfield. (641) 472-6343.  Colllections include Native American artifacts, Civil War objects, Parsons College memorabilia, and more.

SCIENCE CENTER OF IOWA. 401 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Pkwy., Des Moines. (515) 274-6868. Live programs and demonstrations, Star Theater digital planetarium, six-story IMAX Dome Theater. Wild Music: Sounds & Songs of Life. Whales compose, bullfrogs chorus, and songbirds greet the dawn. Nature’s musical instinct runs deep. Through sensory-stimulating activities, hear, see, and feel the music that surrounds us. Exhibit highlights include ocean, forest, and city “soundscapes,” the Jamming Room, the Bioacoustic Lab, and the Power of Sound & Music theater show. Through May 2017. Blank IMAX Dome Theatre. Experience the big picture! The six-story, dome-shaped screen wraps you in larger-than-life images that surround your field of view, front-to-back and top-to-bottom. Featuring both science documentaries and Hollywood films. Geometry Playground. Change the way you think about geometry in this hands-on traveling exhibit. Engage your hands, brain, and body in playful investigations.

PHELPS YOUTH PAVILION.  225 Commercial St., Waterloo. (319) 291-4490. Explore arts and culture through interactive exhibits. Light Play! This new hands-on exhibit features a Big Brite, shadow puppets, glowing hula hoops, an interactive step-on-it screen, and more. Through Dec. 2016. The Great Bicycle Recycle. Recycled bicycle parts give kids hands-on opportunities to learn about “going green” and making eco-friendly choices. Grant’s Farm exhibit is an interactive area featuring Iowa’s best known artist, Grant Wood (1891-1952). Wood’s trademark style, American Regionalism, glorified the hard-working farmers of the early 20th century. All of the the things that Wood did as a young boy on a farm in Iowa, he later turned into art! Blast from the Past. Are ready to be a Raider of the Lost Art? Climb into the time machine and dial your destination for the Paleolithic Era. Crawl though a cave featuring the drawings of ancient peoples. Use a flashlight to discover cave paintings and learn why artists believed that this art was magic. Ongoing. Super Powers of Art. Experience ten hands-on stations that each feature a different superpower of art, like time travel, illusion, magnify, disguise, and invisibility. Build and race cars, crawl through a giant nose, or touch a replica mammoth bone. Ongoing.

NATIONAL MISSISSIPPI RIVER MUSEUM & AQUARIUM.  Port of Dubuque. (563) 557-9545. Chart a course through gators and fish; pilot a barge; enjoy wetland nature trails, aquariums, and more.  Turtles: Secret of the Shell. See the exciting world of turtles, up close. The Fred Woodward Riverboat Museum. Large freshwater aquariums, live animals, changing exhibits.

FAMILY MUSEUM. 2900 Learning Campus Dr., Bettendorf. (563) 344-4106. A fun, interactive environment for children to learn about the natural sciences. Welcome to the Town of Fox Hollow! This interactive work of art will keep visitors busy with moving ball puzzles, a market, vet clinic, fire department, shoe shop, and more in Fox Hollow. Lil ’Ssippi River Valley. Explore the Mighty Mississippi on a smaller scale with a 28-foot waterplay table, a working crane to move cargo from dock to boat, and large bridges similar to the bridges of the Quad Cities.  George’s Farm. Kids can keep the market stocked with vegetables and canned goods and collect eggs from the chicken coop. Ongoing.

SULLIVAN BROTHERS IOWA VETERANS MUSEUM, 503 South St., Waterloo. (319) 234-6357. Visit the permanent exhibit honoring the service and sacrifice of all Iowa veterans from the Civil War to present. Step into their stories through traditional exhibits, interactive activities, and an electronic Wall of Honor. The Museum consists of over 35 interactive exhibits. Interviews collected via the Voices of Iowa Oral History Project total over 1,500.

VESTERHEIM NORWEGIAN-AMERICAN MUSEUM. 523 W. Water Street, Decorah. (563) 382-8828. 

GLENN MILLER BIRTHPLACE MUSEUM. 122 West Clark St., Clarinda. (712) 542-2461. The museum tells the story of Iowa-born Glenn Miller, leader of the most acclaimed big band in the country and recipient of the first RCA Gold Record. Glenn Miller once said in a radio interview, “America means freedom and there’s no expression of freedom quite so sincere as music.”

Open Saturday & Sunday, by chance or appointment. Bentonsport. (319) 592-3579. See over 4,000 local Indian artifacts.

HISTORIC GREEF GENERAL STORE. 21964 Hawk Dr., Keosauqua. (319) 592-3579. Tues.-Sunday 10-5. Several rooms filled with local Iowa handmade cafts & antiques, museum displays.

THE THEATRE MUSEUM OF REPERTOIRE AMERICANA. 405 E. Threshers Rd., Mount Pleasant. Admission: $5, Children under 14 FREE. Open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Tuesday – Sunday from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Explore a unique collection of memorabilia from early American popular entertainment including tent shows, opera houses, showboats & Chautauqua plus the Toby Hall of Fame. (319) 385-9432.