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Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs marks state’s 175th anniversary

Oct 22, 2021

Almost 175 years ago, Iowa became the 29th state to join the Union.

To mark the anniversary, coming up on Dec. 28, the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs is rounding out a year of special initiatives for Iowans of all ages, all across the state.

“This is a time to learn about our state’s history and celebrate what it means to be an Iowan,” Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Director Chris Kramer said. “We can find inspiration from the past and rise to the challenges of today by tapping into our state’s authentic art, history and culture.”

Two of the department’s divisions, the State Historical Society of Iowa and Iowa Arts Council, recently teamed up to publish a special art-filled edition of the state’s leading history journal, The Annals of Iowa, which first rolled off the press in 1863.

The new edition of The Annals of Iowa features two overview articles about the enduring value and ever-shifting evolution of Iowa history itself, along with nine additional essays on specific topics such as agriculture, education and politics. The journal also features 17 original works of Iowa-inspired art created by artists from across the state.

Individual copies and subscriptions of the quarterly journal can be purchased at Articles from previous editions, dating back to 1863, are freely accessible online.

“We’re taking this moment, this 175th anniversary, as a milestone moment to take a breath and see where we’ve gone and to chart a course for the future,” Annals editor Andrew Klumpp said.

In addition to reading the journal, here are more ways Iowans can commemorate Iowa’s 175th anniversary:

Attend the annual Celebrate Iowa Gala on Dec. 10 at the Scottish Rite Consistory in Des Moines. The state’s premier cultural event showcases Iowa history, art, music and cuisine.

Browse the new Days of Learning collection of online resources – videos, articles, book recommendations and more – curated by experts from the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and partner organizations from across the state.

Explore the new Iowa History Collections Catalog, which unifies the state’s collection of more than 200 million pieces of history – documents, photos, artifacts and more – into a free, easy-to-search online database.

Join Goldie’s Kids Club to enjoy a mix of in-person and at-home activities designed for young historians and their families.

Create a self-portrait and submit it for a special collaborative display of Iowans from across the state.

Visit the “Iowa’s People & Places” exhibit at the State Historical Museum of Iowa in Des Moines, any day Tuesday through Friday, during guided tours on Dec. 28, or virtually through an interactive 360-degree virtual tour. Additionally, Iowans can visit the mobile museum that is touring all 99 counties in a custom-built Winnebago or any of the pop-up displays in every county. Iowans can still request one of the mail-order displays, which traces 13,000 years of Iowa history.

Tune in online to an “Iowa History 101” webinar or “Iowa Stories” presentation or watch recordings of previous sessions, which have covered everything from jazz to baseball to the Civil War. Upcoming webinars will feature Annals of Iowa cover artist Molly Wood on botanical photographs, on Oct. 28; University of Iowa scholar Dwain Coleman on Black veterans of the Civil War, on Nov. 4; and State Curator Leo Landis on Donna Reed and the 75th anniversary of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” on Dec. 9.

Join the new Iowa History Book Club, which next meets online on Dec. 9 to discuss “On Behalf of the Family Farm: Iowa Women’s Farm Activism since 1945,” by Jenny Barker-Devine.

Create and install a State Historical Marker to tell the stories of local people and places that played a role in Iowa’s past. New funds are available for grants up to $2,000.

More information about all of these programs can be found online at

The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and its three divisions – the Iowa Arts Council, Produce Iowa - State Office of Media Production and the State Historical Society of Iowa – empower Iowa to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities by connecting Iowans to the people, places and points of pride that define our state. The department’s work enables Iowa to be recognized as a state that fosters creativity and serves as a catalyst for innovation where the stories of Iowa are preserved and communicated to connect past, present and future generations.