More Exhibits & Displays
Throughout the museum and atrium, you will find smaller exhibits and displays about a variety of Iowa topics.
Captive Nature: The Wildlife Dioramas of Joseph Steppan
Learn about wildlife native to the state and how they were forced from their natural habitats by America’s westward expansion. As elk, turkey, prairie chicken and bear began disappearing from the state, Joseph Steppan joined the State Historical Society of Iowa as a curator and taxidermist. Through his efforts between 1910 and 1935, he preserved the history of Iowa wildlife by transforming animal skins into the beautiful wood and glass encased dioramas that are currently on display.
Crystal Treasures from Iowa’s Quarries and Mines
View some of the beautiful crystal formations discovered in Iowa’s coalmine and quarry waste piles.
Geode: State Rock of Iowa
Discover the beauty of the geode, selected in 1967 as the State Rock of Iowa for its prominence in the state. After learning about the geode and all the minerals it contains, plan a visit to the Keokuk region to hunt for your own geode.
Rand McNally Globe
View the iconic globe, produced by Rand McNally, that stood in the lobby of the Des Moines Register & Tribune Company for 63 years. Rand McNally artisans spent 3,000 hours hand painting the 6-foot-wide, 150 pound, spun aluminum globe. In 1950, its installation commemorated 100 years of publishing.
View recent artifacts donated to the museum in two atrium displays. Current highlights include two puppets from the WOI-TV program The House with the Magic Window, Gregory Lion and Catrina Crocodile, 1920s women’s fashion accessories from Black Hawk County and a 1979 Des Moines Technical High School Band jacket and hat.
A Service to Silver: Tribute to the USS Iowa
View the stunning 40-piece silver service that Iowa donated in 1896 to the U.S. Navy in honor of the newly commissioned USS Iowa battleship.
Wall of Iowans
Explore notable Iowans from Chief Mahaska to Shawn Johnson in this interactive touch display. Search through extraordinary Iowans on a touch screen and learn about their lives and the impact they made on their state, nation and the world.
Wings Over Iowa
View three vintage aircraft suspended from the ceiling of the atrium.
- The Bleriot XI Monoplane (about 1909) was the first of Louis Bleriot’s aircraft designs to be fully successful. He proved the success of the machine by becoming the first person to cross the English Channel in an airplane 17 years before Lindbergh’s famous flight across the Atlantic Ocean. Following this success, Bleriot’s monoplanes sold well and many flying schools adopted them as standard trainers. Evert “Hud” Weeks restored this Bleriot XI to flyable condition in the late 1950s/early 1960s.
- Brothers Arthur and Ben Klein built the Curtiss Pusher Biplane (about 1911) from a kit in Treynor, Iowa. The brothers flew the plane from 1911 to 1915, but due to frequent mechanical problems the plane was disassembled, stored and then rediscovered in the 1960s.
- Oscar Solbrig, known as the Davenport Bird Man, built and flew the red and white Benoist Tractor Biplane (about 1917). Louis Anderson restored the plane, and it was on display at the old city museum of Davenport until 1962.
99 Counties of Iowa
Take a virtual tour across Iowa’s 99 counties to explore fascinating historical and cultural information. Learn about Iowa’s historic sites and Medal of Honor recipients, and transform historic photos and see what the scene looks like today.