Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
August 7, 1998

Museum exhibits draw on ISU faculty expertise

by Linda Charles

When Jerome Thompson needs advice or expert review of exhibits at the State Historical Society of Iowa, he often turns to Iowa State, where he finds experts in many fields.

Three exhibits currently featured in the museum have drawn heavily on the expertise of current and former Iowa State faculty members.

Professors emeritus Richard Willham and Allen Packer; Don Draper, professor of biomedical sciences; and Peggy Miller, associate professor of animal sciences; helped museum staff prepare "Hay Days: the Horse in Iowa History." The exhibit shows how horses were part of everyday life in Iowa, from agricultural work to such amusements as racing and circuses. The exhibit also examines the relationship between horses and Native Americans and traces the history of horse care, which was the early focus of the Iowa State Veterinary Medicine College.

Among the exhibit items from the college are a horse skeleton and a preserved horse colon. A model of draft horses and equipment that was used in the late 19th and early 20th century to teach harnessing methods was borrowed from the animal science department.

The exhibit will be on display through April 2001.

Another exhibit that draws on ISU expertise is "Unpacking on the Prairie: Jewish Women in Iowa." ISU professor emeritus David Gradwohl guest-curated the exhibit, which follows Jewish women who settled in Iowa. The exhibit is on display through Dec. 31.

Another exhibit in the museum that should be familiar to most Iowa Staters is the ABC replica. The original Atanasoff-Berry Computer, the first electronic digital computer, was built on campus in the early 1940s. The replica was completed by an ISU team last year and will be on display in the museum until Sept. 26. The August issue of National Geographic features a piece on the original computer.

Thompson, along with several of the museum's employees, are Iowa State alumni. Thompson's father, Louis Thompson, is a former associate dean of the College of Agriculture.

The State Historical Society, 600 E. Locust Ave., Des Moines, is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturdays, and noon to 4:30 p.m. Sundays. Through August, the museum also is open Mondays from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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