UI Museum on the move


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Local museums are on the move this summer.

The Mobile Museum is a collaboration between the Office for Research and Development, the Office of the State Archaeologist, and the Pentacrest museums — the Old Capitol Museum and the UI Museum of Natural History.

The RV’s itinerary kicked off last week when it traveled to Fort Dodge to visit the Iowa Academy of the Sciences and the general public. The 38-feet-long exhibition will run through at least October.

The research office, the museums, and the UI Foundation provided funds for the project. The RV was custom-designed by Winnebago Industries. The RV outfitting and first year’s exhibit cost roughly $300,000.

John Doershuk of the State Archaeologist Office said officials are looking to eventually expand the exhibits, displaying research from around the university including the work done by the driving simulator and the virtual soldier. No official plans have been set beyond the first exhibit.

The exhibits feature three pieces. The exhibit will feature fossils from the Ice Age, as Iowa soil covers the fossils of wooly mammoths more often than those of dinosaurs.

The other aspects will include the exhibit Glenwood: Iowa’s Ancient Agriculturalists. The State Archaeologist’s Office focused on the earliest culture and the town of Glenwood, located in western Iowa, where the first farming in Iowa took place nearly 1,000 years ago.

The final exhibit centers on the Iowa Constitution, the building of the Old Capitol, and the forming of the UI.

Officials are hoping to expand the audience of the exhibits. Dan Reed, the UI vice president for Research and Economic Development, maintained the “fundamental issue” for the museum was its inability to reach past Iowa City residents.

“The aim is to really broaden the understanding of Iowans as to the research activities of the university and the way the university research affects their lives,” Reed said.

The museums typically see 55,000 visitors a year, so instead of sending educators on the road with trunks of artifacts, museum officials board the black and gold RV.

“We wish we could show our museums to the whole state of Iowa, but we’re rooted in Iowa City, so this is our chance to get the museum on the road,” said Trina Roberts, the associate director and curator of the UI Museum of Natural History.

Reed said the project is long-term, with content being refreshed once a year. Potential stops include schools, libraries, RAGBRAI, and the State Fair.

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