Museums & galleries

Upgrades coming to the African American Museum of Iowa

New George Washington Carver exhibit among improvements

An interactive petition in support of Civil Rights is on display at the African American Museum of Iowa in Cedar Rapids on Sunday, June 19, 2016. The museum is set to unveil on June 30 new additions to their permanent collection. Titled “Endless Possibilities,” the new exhibits will be more interactive and include new informational panels depicting Iowa’s African American heritage. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
An interactive petition in support of Civil Rights is on display at the African American Museum of Iowa in Cedar Rapids on Sunday, June 19, 2016. The museum is set to unveil on June 30 new additions to their permanent collection. Titled “Endless Possibilities,” the new exhibits will be more interactive and include new informational panels depicting Iowa’s African American heritage. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — The African American Museum of Iowa is inviting the public to check out its newest displays, including one focused on George Washington Carver, during an open house Thursday.

“This exhibit is going to be around for the next several years,” said Brianna Kim, the museum’s curator. “We hope people come to the open house, but if you aren’t able to, you can come anytime we’re open.”

“Endless Possibilities” focuses on George Washington Carver, who attended what is now Iowa State University. The museum’s previous exhibit on Carver only was on display for a few months before being destroyed in the Flood of 2008.

“He’s always been a big interest for the museum — he’s just a very well known figure, very impactful, has an Iowa connection,” Kim said.

The museum’s exhibit is designed to resemble the laboratory Carver used at Iowa State. It includes interactive touch screen and projection features.

Another new space, the Haywood Belle Oral History Nook, is to serve as a space for reflection, where visitors can look through books, listen to stories and view information.

“The expansions are answering questions that patrons asked for decades,” Kim said.

Other changes include a new introductory sign at the beginning of the exhibits and the relocation of the civil rights displays to one area.

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Visitors to the museum often are surprised to learn that the state was home to numerous sit-ins and marches during the Civil Rights era, and was one of the first states to desegregate schools.

The museum has been working on planning and fundraising for the project for about a year.

“Our museum is for everyone,” said Alicia R.H. Mayberry, marketing/development associate for the museum. “There is a piece of every single person’s history in here. So it doesn’t matter if you’re black, you’re white, you’re Czech, you can find a face that looks like yours in our exhibit.”

IF YOU GO

A free open house is from 5 to 6 p.m. Thursday at the African American Museum of Iowa.

The museum otherwise is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday; and until 7 p.m. on Thursdays.

Check out www.blackiowa.org for more information about the museum.

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