116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
This article has been updated to reflect that the date of a fundraiser banquet featuring former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush will be Oct. 7 at the DoubleTree Hotel by Hilton in downtown Cedar Rapids. An earlier version reported a wrong date.
WEST BRANCH — The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum is open again this summer after being closed for months during the pandemic.
The museum also is offering a new temporary exhibit, “Deliverance: America and the Famine in Soviet Russia, 1921-1923,” through Dec. 31.
And it’s looking forward to welcoming former President George W. Bush at a fall fundraising banquet, part of a $20 million capital campaign to renovate the museum, which opened in 1962.
When the pandemic hit in March 2020, the National Archives and Records Administration ordered all its facilities, including the Herbert Hoover Museum and 13 other presidential libraries, to close.
Thomas Schwartz, director of the Hoover museum, said the museum briefly reopened July 6, 2021, at 25 percent capacity but closed again Aug. 23 due to high COVID-19 transmission levels.
The museum again reopened in October 2021 at 25 percent capacity until March of this year when it lifted its capacity limits, had its staff return to work on-site and reopened its library and research room.
While the research room was closed, requests for scanned materials piled up, Schwartz said.
“I think the people who had the most adverse impact were graduate students who were working on their dissertations and were on deadlines for completion,” Schwartz said.
What’s happened since?
While the museum is open again, it’s still taking COVID-19 precautions.
“We have plenty of hand sanitizer throughout the museum galleries, and we also installed touchless faucets and toilets,“ Schwartz said ”So, we implemented prudent measures, (and) we're putting public safety first and foremost.“
Since the research room’s reopening in March, the backlog of requests is now cleared, and he’s excited to have researchers back in the building.
The Hoover Presidential Foundation was unable to award travel grants for researchers to visit during the pandemic but will begin giving those grants again next year.
The foundation also is in the midst of a $20 million capital campaign “to completely renovate our permanent galleries and exhibit galleries,” Schwartz said.
Donations to the museum’s capital campaign are eligible for a 25 percent Iowa state tax credit for gifts made by Iowa taxpayers.
One of the foundation’s main fundraisers will be Oct. 7 when former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush will be featured at a banquet at the DoubleTree by Hilton in downtown Cedar Rapids.
Bush will participate in an “armchair discussion” with Margaret Hoover, the great-granddaughter of Hoover and host of “Firing Line” on PBS.
Also, the museum will present Bush and former first lady Laura Bush its first Hoover Presidential Foundation Great Humanitarian Award for their work in Africa.
The award was created to recognize altruism and is offered in the spirit of Hoover’s efforts to save millions of western Europeans from starvation starting in 1914 during World War I. Hoover, who was elected president in 1928, is the only U.S. president born in Iowa, where he grew up in West Branch.
Proceeds from the October banquet will go toward the museum’s capital campaign. Reservations are now being taken for tables of 10 at the museum’s website, with individual seat reservations opening Aug. 6 at the Rummells Center, 127 W. Main St., West Branch. Online individual reservations, if tickets remain, begin Aug. 8.
Also being honored at the event will be the recipients of the Hoover Uncommon Public Service Awards.
This year’s recipients are state Sen. Janet Petersen, D-Des Moines, and state Rep. Cecil Dolecheck, R-Mount Ayr. The 2020 winners, state Sen. Brad Zaun, R-Urbandale, and state Rep. Ruth Ann Gaines, D-Des Moines, also will be honored since festivities were canceled that year.