For more information about cultural resources in Iowa including the arts and historical museums/sites, contact: Department of Cultural Affairs, State Historical Building, 600 E. Locust St., Des Moines 50319; 515/281-6258

Iowa's educational environment naturally serves as an impetus for diverse cultural activities. Iowa has the highest literacy rate in the nation. Ninety-three percent of Iowa's schools rank above the national average in scholastic achievement. Bright, ambitious Iowans have earned more undergraduate degrees per 100,000 people than the population of any other state. Also, Iowa is one of four states in the nation with two world-class research universities. These institutions provide a nourishing environment for the development of highly sophisticated entrepreneurial efforts, as well as creative, innovative cultural endeavors. In Iowa, the arts, museums, and historic sites offer variety, quality, and distinct opportunities to our citizens. Iowans strive to improve and broaden the state's cultural, educational, and intellectual resources.

Iowa Culture Develops State Economy

Iowa's communities are among the most livable places in the nation. This is largely due to Iowans' determination to culturally enrich our lives. Iowa's cultural industry is strong, signifying an investment in the state's future and reaffirming the arts as an essential part of Iowan's everyday experiences. For example, over half a million people visit Iowa's museums and galleries each year providing more than $1 million to Iowa's economy.

Economic Development and the Arts

The arts are a major force in Iowa's economic development. Over $140 million is generated each year in the state creating jobs that serve nearly 2 million Iowans. In Iowa, state support of 52 cents per capita is supplemented by extensive private and local support. For every public dollar spent on the arts, $300 is generated locally. The result is a large number of resident companies in dance, theatre and music and the excellent facilities in which they perform.

Attendance figures alone attest to the popularity and economic significance of Iowa's fairs and festivals to the vitality of the state. Over 800,000 people participate in these events generating over $8 million in local spending each year.

Iowans Use History for Economic Development

Iowans have discovered that history is a tool to both rediscover and preserve our own identity while attracting new investments in our communities. The historic preservation investment tax credit program alone has pumped $60 million of private investment into Iowa's economy.

The results of these investments can be seen in renewed and thriving communities all over the state. Using national economic models, it is projected that these private investments created more than 3,200 new jobs and increased the Iowa gross output by nearly $136 million. Iowa's heritage and Iowa's businesses are working hand in hand for Iowa's future.

The Historical Resource Development Program (HRDP) provides grants in three categories: historic preservation; libraries and archives; museums. The program has received funding since 1990 through the Resource Enhancement and Protection Act. Grants totalling more than $5.5 million have been awarded during the ten years the program has been in effect. Almost all of the counties in Iowa have benefitted from funded projects.

Eligible applicants include not-for-profit organizations, businesses, governmental units, Indian tribes, and individuals. The goal is to preserve and protect the historical resources of Iowa, and to interpret them and make their significance available to the citizens of Iowa. The HRDP grants require match from the grant recipient, in cash and in-kind donations. Training workshops for prospective applicants are held throughout the state, prior to the deadline for applications. Peer review panels and the Board of Trustees of the State Historical Society of Iowa (SHSI) evaluate each application, and the Administrator of the SHSI makes the final awards. More than 200 projects have benefitted from this program to date.

State Historical Building is Model Private/Public Partnership

On December 14, 1987, Iowa opened a new 220,000 square foot granite and glass State Historical Building as a symbol of the state's pride in its past and faith in its future. This futuristic facility also represents a model private/public partnership in creating a major new economic and cultural resource for the entire state. To build the facility, the state contributed $10 million while nearly 4,000 private citizens, businesses, foundations, and organizations donated another $15.4 million.

The State Historical Society of Iowa serves as trustee of the collective self-image of the people who call themselves Iowans. With an active state historical agency and over 180 local historical societies and museums, history is an integral component of daily living in Iowa.

Historical Sites Share Iowa's Heritage

The state of Iowa owns and operates several historic sites around the state to help Iowans share and enjoy their rich cultural heritage. From Indian mounds to Frank Lloyd Wright houses, Iowa's historic sites tell fascinating human stories.

Archaeological sites from Toolesboro, along the Mississippi River in Louisa County to northwest Iowa's Blood Run National Historic Landmark in Lyon County record the area's prehistoric past.

In northeast Iowa, Ft. Atkinson was the only military post built by the United States to protect one Indian tribe from another.

Old Capitol and Plum Grove in Iowa City recall the territorial and first state capital city. Plum Grove was the retirement home of Iowa's first territorial governor, Robert Lucas.

The Edel Blacksmith Shop in Haverhill, Marshall County, looks like Matthew Edel just walked out the door for lunch.

A classic Victorian mansion, Terrace Hill is now the governor's residence and is open to the public in Des Moines.

In Iowa's Great Lakes region, in Dickinson County, the Abigail Gardner Sharp cabin recalls the 1857 "Spirit Lake Massacre" in Arnolds Park.

Cedar Rock, a classic Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian home was build outside of Quasqueton.

Montauk, located in Clermont, is a major tourist attraction in northeast Iowa. Visitors can see how the family of Iowa's twelfth governor, William Larrabee furnished and maintained their 1874 vintage brick and native limestone mansion for more than 100 years. The well house, laundry, creamery, ice house, workshop, and barn also have been preserved. Montauk and the neighboring Union Sunday School are listed on the National Register of Historical Places.

There is no admission charge for any of the sites operated by the Historical Society, including Montauk, Plum Grove, Sharp Cabin, Edel Blacksmith Shop, Toolesboro, the American Gothic House in Eldon and the new Iowa Historic Trails Center in Council Bluffs.

National Ethnic Museums Celebrate Iowa's Cultural Diversity

Iowans have always welcomed and celebrated cultural diversity, from the original Mesquaki natives who returned to purchase their own lands in Tama County in 1855 to the reception of Tai Dam immigrants from Southeast Asia.

The King of Norway regularly visits the Norwegian National Immigrant Museum, Vesterheim in Decorah. Czechs have established a national museum celebrating their cultural pride in Cedar Rapids and a Danish National Immigrant Museum is being established in Elk Horn.

Whether it is the German heritage of the Amana Colonies, the Dutch heritage of Pella and Orange City, or the more recent cultural richness found in the Des Moines Tai Dam Ethnic Cultural Center, Iowans are exciting in their cultural diversity.

Iowa Museums Artful Inside and Out

The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art has the world's largest collection of Grant Wood paintings. The University of Iowa Museum of Art contains a permanent collection of more than 5,000 selections including an outstanding collection of African art. The Putnam Museum in Davenport, the oldest regional museum west of the Mississippi, is noted for its zoological and Egyptian collections, as well as its local history exhibit.

The Des Moines Art Center is known for its fine collection of twentieth century works of art from America and Europe and its distinctive structure designed by noted architects Eliel Saarinen, I.M. Pei, and Richard Meier.

The Brunnier Gallery and Museum at Iowa State University has one of the finest collections of decorative arts in the Midwest with pieces dating from ancient cultures to the twentieth century.

Artistic Productivity and Inspired Creativity

Iowa serves as an ideal setting for artistic productivity and inspired creativity. Iowa City ranks in the top five cities in the Midwest for the number of professional artists per capita. The internationally-acclaimed Writer's Workshop has provided the inspirational environment which has added to the success of this Iowa-based activity.

The University of Iowa and the Joffrey Ballet have enjoyed a special working relationship since 1974. A new Joffrey production of the Nutcracker premiered in Iowa City and will be performed in cities throughout the United States for years to come. The Old Creamery Theatre in Garrison has received national recognition as a rural professional theatre company. Likewise, the Des Moines Metro Opera has received acclaim for its innovative programming and outreach programs.

The Ames International Orchestra Association has hosted major symphonies of world renown. Hancher Auditorium in Iowa City is rated in the top 10 for quality performing facilities in the U.S.

The Arts are Accessible to Iowans

In Iowa, the pace of life provides more time for pleasure and easy access makes quality cultural opportunities a part of the daily life-style. Quality art collections are easily accessible for Iowans' enjoyment and enrichment. Nine major art museums and 57 other museums and galleries are located in the state.

A network of over 80 local arts agencies provide the link for community involvement and educational opportunities at Iowa's grass roots level supporting 65 performing theatre groups, 18 music and dance associations, and 40 musical performing groups. The spirit and community pride of Iowans combine to produce over 160 arts fairs and festivals each year.