A major renovation project at the State Historical Building is getting a six-figure boost this month.
The Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust has awarded $200,000 to the Iowa Historical Foundation for new technology, informational signage, graphics and exhibits at the State Historical Library & Archives Research Center located in the State Historical Building in Des Moines. The research center is one of many offerings of the State Historical Society of Iowa, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.
“Earning support from the prestigious Carver Trust speaks to the importance of teaching generations of Iowans how to research Iowa history in this unique setting.” Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Director Chris Kramer stated. “This Carver Trust grant, along with other private and public support, will furnish the research center with the modern technology that will better connect Iowans to the past.”
“We are grateful to have earned this generous grant from the Carver Trust,” State Historical Society of Iowa Administrator Susan Kloewer said. “This funding will help us create a more vibrant visitor experience and make our state’s history more accessible to the public.”
The renovation project began in August 2019 to replace a portion of the State Historical Building’s drainage system and pipes, along with its leaking skylights.
At the same time, the State Historical Society is updating the 15,000-square-foot research center, where the public can access many of the state’s historical collections in Des Moines, including 1.5 million photographs, 40,000 cubic feet of government records, 25.9 million pages of newspapers, 20.7 million original manuscript pages and more. The entire State Historical Society of Iowa collection totals more than 209 million pieces of history.
A variety of people use the research center in Des Moines, both in-person and virtually, including educators, students, reporters, curators, archaeologists, city planners, authors, preservationists, historians and genealogists.
The research center also serves city and county history organizations that are part of the society’s Local History Network, which was established in 2018 to provide technical assistance and research support to local, county and regional historical organizations across the state.
Overall, more than 5,000 visitors spend days on-site at the research center annually. In addition, staff respond to more than 20,000 online reference requests each year from people in Iowa, across the country and around the world.
The Iowa Historical Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that is governed by a seven-member board of directors. Formed in 1987, the Foundation’s mission is to support the State Historical Society of Iowa, allowing for private support for educational programs, exhibits and the collection.
The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and its divisions – the State Historical Society of Iowa, including the State Historic Preservation Office; the Iowa Arts Council; the interim Iowa Humanities Council; and Produce Iowa, the state office of media production – empower Iowans to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities by connecting to the people, places and points of pride that define our state.