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Old Capitol Museum displays ’60s and ’70s IC memorabilia

BY ERIC HAWKINSON | FEBRUARY 17, 2011 7:20 AM

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It’s hard to picture a scene of young people picketing the streets of Iowa City, throwing stones through Iowa Book windows, and screaming chants, while police try to remain in control.

This picture existed, though, during the turbulent 1960s.

Since September 2010, the Old Capitol Museum has put on an exhibit, Chaos and Creation on the Pentacrest, which highlights the years of 1965-1975 with pictorial timelines, photographs, psychedelic murals, and a replica ’60s dorm room.

Old Capitol Museum employee Ryan Lindsay said the exhibit has gained three additions to enhance the feel of these tumultuous years in Iowa City. A documentary film that follows the violent protests of Nov. 1, 1967, a student petition signed in blood over the result of that protest, and a letter written by Iowa City business owners that gives a real-life account of the event.

“It fit extremely well with the current exhibit that we’re showing,” Lindsay said.

Chaos and Creation on the Pentacrest is open Tuesday through Sunday with varying hours of operation. The museum is closed on Mondays and national holidays. Admission is free.

The exhibit also features a free film series running through May 1. The first films, A Grin Without a Cat (Part 1) and The Sixth Side of the Pentagon, begin at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in Macbride Auditorium.

Shalla Wilson, the director of operations at the Old Capitol Museum, believes the exhibit showcases an “enormous time of change” when young people were rising up.

The draft changed so it could go after college students, dorms were integrated as co-ed, and students faced major tuition hikes.

Living in a different time, students still face tuition increases and an unpopular overseas war.

“We have our own challenges in this decade that people find the need to voice their opinions, concerns on different issues [...],” Wilson said. “I think if people are provoked enough, they will stand their ground, but you have to remember in the ’60s, things were different.”

And when people visit the exhibit’s reconstructed dorm room, they will see the only difference is a lack of cutting-edge technology.

“Students [today] have a lot more luxuries,” Wilson said, listing such items as TVs, iPods, iPads, cell phones, and laptops.

With a pile of dirty clothes on the floor, band and movie posters covering the walls, and homework spread across a university-issued desk, the ’60s dorm-dweller was still just as much an individual as he or she would be today.

“Some things change, and some things just stay the same,” Wilson said.


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