Museums & Science Centers: Photo Ark Documents Global Biodiversity

Learn more about the master artist and inventor Leonardo Da Vinci at the National Mississippi River Museum.

NATIONAL MISSISSIPPI RIVER MUSEUM, 350 E. Third St., Port of Dubuque. (563) 557-9545. Da Vinci: The Exhibition. This hands-on examination of da Vinci’s life and work features life-size replicas of his inventions, recreations of artworks such as Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, and dozens of stunning displays examining his achievements in engineering, flight, hydraulics, music, light, anatomy, art, and more. Opens May 12.

UNIVERSITY OF IOWA LIBRARIES, 100 Main Library, Iowa City. (319) 335-5299. The Brinton Collection. Films, slides, projectors, papers, and other documents from the life and career of William Franklin Brinton of Washington, Iowa, are on display. Brinton was an itinerant showman, traveling from Texas to Minnesota to project slides and film, and to stage other entertainments during the years 1895–1909. Brinton was an eccentric and energetic individual, and the collection not only preserves some of the earliest commercially available film, but also contains material related to Brinton’s experimental interests, such as his passion for designing flying machines long before human flight became a reality. Through Aug. 3.

OLD CAPITOL MUSEUM, Iowa City. (319) 335-0546. The National Geographic Photo Ark. Joel Sartore, a world-renowned photographer, has visited 40 countries in his quest to create a photo archive of global biodiversity, which will feature portraits of an estimated 12,000 species of birds, fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates. Once completed, the Photo Ark will serve as an important record of each animal’s existence and a powerful testament to the importance of saving them. Through May 20. Faces of Iowa Through the Early Lens. In the mid-1800s, Iowa City saw a boom in commercial studio photography. See rare daguerreotypes, original photography equipment, and images of early residents. Through May 20. The National Geographic Photo Ark. Joel Sartore, a world-renowned photographer, has visited 40 countries in his quest to create a photo archive of global biodiversity, which will feature portraits of an estimated 12,000 species of birds, fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates. Once completed, the Photo Ark will serve as an important record of each animal’s existence and a powerful testament to the importance of saving them. Through May 20.

WAPELLO COUNTY HISTORICAL MUSEUM, 210 West Main St., Ottumwa. (641) 682-8676. Smithsonian Exhibit: Hometown Teams. Thanks to a never-ending appetite for competition and games, Americans now have a wider selection of sports to play and watch than ever before. The Smithsonian’s traveling exhibition examines the many roles that sports play in American society. With guest speakers every Thursday evening. May 5–June 16.

Handcarved wooden spoons by Swedish woodcrafter Jogge Sundqvist are at the Vesterheim Museum.

VESTERHEIM MUSEUM, Decorah. (563) 382-8828. Spoons: Carving. Community. This exhibit captures the spirit of the recent spoon-carving movement, showcasing historic and modern examples of spoons carved in wood and horn. Includes hands-on interactives, recorded interviews, short videos, and a carving studio. Through Nov. 4.  Rocks and Hard Places: Emigration Through the Lens of Knud Knudsen. This exhibit explores emigration through first-person accounts, family histories, and the stunning black and white photography of Knud Knudsen. Through September 23.

NATIONAL CZECH & SLOVAK MUSEUM, 1400 Inspiration Place SW, Cedar Rapids. (319) 362-8500. Guts & Glory: The War Train that Shaped a Nation. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the formation of Czechoslovakia. This multimedia exhibit tells the story of Czech and Slovak Legions and the amazing account of their trek via railway across Siberia during WWI. Local high school students have created both a physical replica of a train car and a virtual reality bakery train car for this exhibit. April 7–Dec. 31.

VESTERHEIM MUSEUM, Decorah. (563) 382-8828. Koselig. Discover the Norwegian secret to surviving winter in a series of immersive “living room” environments that depict a uniquely Scandinavian way of life. Through April 22. Rocks and Hard Places: Emigration Through the Lens of Knud Knudsen. This exhibit explores emigration through first-person accounts, family histories, and the stunning black and white photography of Knud Knudsen. Through September 23. Spoons: Carving. Community. This exhibit captures the spirit of the recent spoon-carving movement, showcasing historic and modern examples of spoons carved in wood and horn. Includes hands-on interactives, recorded interviews, short videos, and a carving studio. Through Nov. 4.

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.

PUTNAM MUSEUM & SCIENCE CENTER, 1717 W. 12th St., Davenport. (563) 324-1933. Air, Land & Sea. This augmented reality experience allows visitors to meet a range of animals from Africa to the Artic as they graze, drink, and interact with the environment around them. Permanent exhibit.

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.

HERBERT HOOVER LIBRARY & MUSEUM, 210 Parkside Dr., West Branch. (319) 643-5301. Tallgrass to Knee High: A Century of Iowa Farming. This exhibition looks at crops, conservation, livestock, machinery, buildings, and farm life in Iowa over the last 100 years. The voices of farm women are highlighted through journal entries and newspaper columns by Clara Steen Skott, Alma Erickson Swanson, Evelyn Birkby, and Val Plagg. Featuring a hands-on area for children that includes farm toys, a life-sized milking cow, board games, digital game stations, and more. Through Oct. 28.

GERMAN AMERICAN HERITAGE CENTER, 712 W. 2nd St., Davenport. (563) 322-8844. Culinary Customs: A Taste of Germany. From sauerkraut to sausage, and everything in between, explore Germany’s delicious culinary traditions. Through June 11.

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

AFRICAN AMERICAN MUSEUM OF IOWA, 55 12th Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids. (319) 862-2101. If Objects Could Talk. See how everyday objects turn into invaluable historic records. Each object, photograph, and document has a story to tell about Iowa and the contributions African Americans have made to the state. Through July 27. Endless Possibilities. This interactive exhibit uses photos, objects, stories, and multimedia to trace the journey of Iowa’s African Americans—from the beauty and diversity of West Africa, to the desperate flight of freedom seekers on the Underground Railroad, to Iowa’s role in the civil rights movement and beyond. Permanent exhibit.

GROUT MUSEUM, 503 South St., Waterloo. (319) 234-6357. Bosnian Portraits: At Home in the Cedar Valley. This exhibit follows the journey of Bosnian refugees from the aftermath of a brutal civil war to the heartland of America. Examine how these difficult events are remembered and passed on to a new generation of Bosnians. Through Sept. 29.