Museums & Science Centers

Detail from The First Vote, drawn by A.R. Waud and printed in Harper’s Weekly, November 1867. Courtesy of Library of Congress.

AFRICAN AMERICAN MUSEUM OF IOWA, 55 12th Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids. (319) 862-2101. Now open Fridays 12–6 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m.–4 p.m.. Masks required. Voices and Votes: Democracy in America. Presented in partnership with the Czech Village/New Bohemia Mainstreet District of Cedar Rapids and the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, the primary exhibition will open at the African American Museum of Iowa, with the NCSML hosting a collaborative exhibition featuring related artifacts from their sister museums. Through Aug. 16.

Humanitarian Marie Schmolková is among the prominent women featured in a new illustrated exhibit at the NCSML.

NATIONAL CZECH & SLOVAK MUSEUM, 1400 Inspiration Place SW, Cedar Rapids. (319) 362-8500. Now open, with ticketed and timed entrances and detailed foot trafficking pathways. Reservations are recommended but not required. Artists as Activists. This exhibit features artists responding to political oppression, bringing together the works of internationally recognized contemporary artists, including Ai Weiwei, David Černý, Emily Jacir, Hong Hao, jc lenochan, Juanma García, Malik Sajad, and Tania Bruguera. Through Sept. 30. Czech Heroines: Prominent Czech Women Past and Present. An illustrated mosaic of the stories of prominent Czech women, this new exhibit in the Anderson Gallery honors rulers, politicians, humanitarians, artists, scientists, and athletes. Through September 7. Immigrant Home. This one-and-a-half-story house was the home of five generations of the Sleger family beginning in the 1890s through 1984 after they emigrated from Bohemia to the United States. Permanent.

LIVING HISTORY FARMS, 11121 Hickman Rd., Urbandale. (515) 278-5286. Living History Farms is an interactive, 500-acre outdoor museum. Visit the 1700 Ioway Indian Farm, the 1850 Pioneer Farm, the 1900 Horse-Powered Farm, and the 1876 Town of Walnut Hill spread across 500 acres. Limited to 70 visitors per hour. Guests will be assigned a touring route and ticket time. Masks are encouraged and are available for purchase.


Call first or check online to learn about museum openings, closures, and updated safety requirements for the following:

CLOSED AUG. 9-23: FAMILY MUSEUM, 2900 Learning Campus Dr., Bettendorf. (563) 344-4106. Up to 75 guests at a time are permitted and are asked to practice social distancing. Food and strollers not allowed at this time. Curious George: Let’s Get Curious! This traveling exhibit built by Minnesota Children’s Museum introduces young children to the world of Curious George, leading visitors on a fun, meaningful hands-on math, science, and engineering-based adventure while emphasizing the central role that parents and caregivers play. Through September 13.

UNIVERSITY OF IOWA PENTACREST MUSEUMS, University of Iowa Campus, Iowa City. (319) 335-0480. For the second year in a row, the Museum of Natural History and the Old Capitol Museum were awarded the “Best Museum” and “Best Historic Building” CRANDIC Awards. At the Museum of Natural History, tour exhibits like the Iowa Hall, a 500-million-year adventure through geological, cultural, and ecological history; the William & Eleanor Hageboeck Hall of Birds; the Biosphere Discovery Hub, exploring the relationship between people and the natural environment, and more. 19th Amendment Exhibit: Hard Won, Not Done: A Century of Struggle. This exhibit commemorates the 100th anniversary of the passing of the 19th amendment. It examines suffragists’ work at the national, state, and local levels that carried the nation through its first step toward gender equality: a woman’s right to vote. A monumental step, it was but the first of many—some still ahead. The exhibit features suffragist history, artifacts, and a call from the past to use your vote today. Through fall 2020.

BRUCEMORE MANSION, 2160 Linden Dr. SE, Cedar Rapids. (319) 362-7375. Named the 2020 Outstanding Attraction at the Iowa Tourism Conference, Brucemore preserves and shares a 26-acre estate and seven historic structures. The site’s story is a lens to the past and a reminder of the people, the events, and the drive that shaped the Cedar Rapids community.

NATIONAL FARM TOY MUSEUM, 1110 16th Avenue Court SE, Dyersville. (563) 875-2727. Bernie Kluesner’s Wooden Marvels. Bernie Kluesner’s collection of handmade wooden toys features some of the most detailed and intricate woodworking replicas in the hobby. To date, Bernie has created over 53 toys, numbering over 14,000 individual pieces, including 186 wheels, and constructed with Elmers Wood Glue—not a single nail or screw. Through December 2021. 100 Years of John Deere Tractors. This exhibit showcases the 100-year evolution of the iconic green and yellow tractors with realistic miniature replicas. Through Dec. 2020.

STATE HISTORICAL MUSEUM OF IOWA, Des Moines. (515) 281-5111. Visit a variety of exhibits, including the six-foot Rand McNally globe, mammoth bones (discovered by a construction crew in Des Moines), vintage aircraft, and much more. Riding Through History. Learn how two Des Moines Register staff members turned their desire to ride across the state into the largest bicycling tour in the world. Get a glimpse of the RAGBRAI experience, including signature foods, team jerseys, classic bicycles, and a short film. Permanent.

PUTNAM MUSEUM & SCIENCE CENTER, 1717 W. 12th St., Davenport. (563) 324-1933. OMg! Elements of Surprise. Discover the elemental building blocks that shape our world through an all-new Putnam exhibit exploring the weird and wonderful periodic table in its 150th year.  The Great Collectors & YOU. Discover artifacts collected by prolific collectors from the Quad Cities and learn something new about the items in your own collection straight from the Putnam’s knowledgeable staff with the interactive feature, Your Trading Place. Saturdays 1–3 p.m. or by appointment. Air, Land & Sea. This augmented reality experience allows visitors to meet a range of animals from Africa to the Arctic as they graze, drink, and interact with the environment around them. Permanent exhibit.

ISU TEXTILES AND CLOTHING MUSEUM, Mary Alice Gallery, 1015 Morrill Hall, 603 Morrill Rd., Ames. (515) 294-8552.

SALISBURY HOUSE, 4025 Tonawanda Dr., Des Moines. While the remarkable architecture at Salisbury House may be the first thing to draw in visitors, Salisbury is also home to important collections of rare books, fine art, decorative art, musical instruments, and more. Permanent exhibit.

SCIENCE CENTER OF IOWA, 401 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Pkwy., Des Moines. (515) 274-6868. Blank IMAX Dome Theatre. Watch science documentaries and Hollywood films on a six-story, dome-shaped screen. Brick by Brick. Discover your inner builder in this exhibit pairing giant LEGO-built structures with hands-on building challenges. View 10 models constructed by LEGO Certified Professional Adam Reed Tucker. Permanent.

BLUEDORN SCIENCE IMAGINARIUM. West 3rd and Washington, Waterloo. (319) 233-8708. Pet a 12-foot python, fire an air cannon, create your own laser show, and more.

GERMAN AMERICAN HERITAGE CENTER, 712 W. 2nd St., Davenport. (563) 322-8844.

RICHARD L. PROENNEKE MUSEUM, Donnellson Public Library, 411 Main St., Donnellson. Visit a museum dedicated to American naturalist and adventurer Richard Proenneke (born in Primrose, Iowa, 1916). View artifacts, items, photos, and objects used or collected during the time Richard lived alone in a cabin he built by hand in Twin Lakes, Alaska. Permanent exhibit.

GROUT MUSEUM, 503 South St., Waterloo. (319) 234-6357. Remember the Ladies: The Path to Suffrage. Winning the right to vote was a hard-fought battle for women. Iowans like Carrie Chapman Catt, Amelia Bloomer, Annie Nowlin Savery and Anna B. Lawther were at the forefront of this effort. Explore the relationship between suffragists in Iowa and the Cedar Valley and the national movement and learn about the changing roles of women throughout the 20th century. Through Sept. 7.

Whose Land Is This? Native Americans and Euro-Americans in Iowa. This traveling exhibit explores the fateful contact between Native Americans in Iowa and Euro-Americans, focusing on the conflict resulting from their very different conceptions of “land.” Created in partnership with the UNI Center for Holocaust & Genocide Education. Through August 17.

HERBERT HOOVER LIBRARY & MUSEUM, 210 Parkside Dr., West Branch. (319) 643-5301. Viva Hoover! The 1928 Goodwill Tour. The exhibit highlights the trip deemed “a call of friendship” during which president-elect Herbert Hoover visited with officials from Honduras, Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil. View a collection of gifts, artifacts, photos, and film footage from stops on his trip, and learn about Hoover’s time spent aboard the USS Maryland and USS Utah. Through August 23.

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

THE THEATRE MUSEUM OF REPERTOIRE AMERICANA. 405 E. Threshers Rd., Mount Pleasant. (319) 385-9432. This seasonal museum is dedicated to the preservation of memorabilia and artifacts of early repertoire theater. The collection includes painted curtains and scenic pieces; costumes and equipment; playbills, show cards, and advertising sheets; and an extensive research library of rare scripts, correspondence, production photos, and other original source materials. Of special interest is the large collection of videotaped interviews with actual “troupers” describing their professional and personal experiences. Wed.–Sat. through Labor Day, or by appointment.

SCIENCE CENTER OF IOWA, 401 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Pkwy, Des Moines. (515) 274-6868. Maker’s Studio. Experiment with circuits, create a stop-motion animation video, build, test a flying machine, and more. Permanent. Why the Sky? Travel through the cosmos, get up close with spacecraft, and more. Permenent. Brick by Brick. Discover your inner builder in this exhibit pairing giant LEGO-built structures with hands-on challenges. View 10 models constructed by LEGO Certified Professional Adam Reed Tucker. Permanent.

IOWA CHILDREN’S MUSEUMS, 1451 Coral Ridge Ave., Coralville. Featuring 14 interactive exhibits that inspire learning and play, including the AB … See Iowa! literacy and photography project; structured and unstructured activities in the Art Studio; the City Music sonic creativity playroom; the Pizzeria Pie cafe, where calculation skills and geometry are put into practice; and The Blue Room, filled to the brim with giant Imagination Playground Blocks. The large-scale, multi-story Take Flight! exhibit immerses kids in the four forces of flight, featuring state-of-the-art flight simulators built into kid-sized planes, a two-story slide, Amazing Airways, Bernoulli’s Wind Tables, a real Cessna 150, and much more. Permanent.

NATIONAL MISSISSIPPI RIVER MUSEUM, 350 E. Third St., Port of Dubuque. (563) 557-9545.

UNIVERSITY OF IOWA LIBRARIES, 100 Main Library, Iowa City. (319) 335-5299.

VICTORIAN HOME & CARRIAGE HOUSE MUSEUM, 308 W 3rd St., Cedar Falls. (319) 266-5149.

Also view The Ultimate Guide to Virtual Museum Resources!