Iowa History 101

Panorama community experiences mobile Iowa history musem

Panorama students and community members took tours of “Iowa History 101” when the State Historical Museum of Iowa’s mobile museum visited Panora last week.

The mobile museum parked at Panorama April 3-6, offering free tours to the public, and hours of education, as students in third through eighth grade visited the bright blue, custom-built Winnebago to learn stories from the past. 

The 300-square-foot exhibition is filled with artifacts from the State Historical Society’s collection. Panorama was the first school stop for the mobile museum that will visit all 99 Iowa counties over the course of three years, from 2017 through 2019.

“Having this traveling museum come to our school gave students the opportunity to experience a portion of Iowa’s history up close, with real artifacts that aren’t in a textbook,” said Joan Fredrickson, K-12 Teacher Librarian, who was instrumental in bringing the RV to Panorama. “The students were able to make personal connections whether it was with something they had learned previously in school about Iowa or from a parent or grandparent having used one of the items in the museum.”

Fredrickson said she hopes the student’s visits sparked conversations at home with stories from the past or memories of how things used to be.

“Iowa really has a lot of interesting history and it was great for students to see how the past impacts us today,” Fredrickson said.

Like a visit to your grandparents’ attic, the exhibition unpacks stories of Iowa’s past with nearly 50 artifacts, including:

• A battered hat from a coal miner in Boone

•A 1917 prototype of the state flag designed by Dixie Cornell Gebhardt of Knoxville

•The pen Gov. William Harding used to sign the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote  

• A basketball jersey Lynne Lorenzen wore during her glory days at Ventura High School

• An Olympic medal from sprinter Natasha Kaiser-Brown of Des Moines

•A patch from a space suit worn by astronaut Peggy Whitson of Beaconsfield 

“This exhibition shares some of the essential stories that every Iowan should know about who we are and what we’ve achieved since Iowa became a state more than 170 years ago,” State Historical Society of Iowa Administrator Susan Kloewer said. “We’re delighted to bring this traveling exhibition to Panora, and we encourage all Iowans to learn about our state’s rich heritage.”

Panorama students visiting the museum worked in groups of three or four, filling out worksheets and answering questions as they explored Iowa’s history.

“We broke it down into four stations -- Iowa Basics, Iowans at Home, Iowan’s at Work, and Iowan’s at Play,” said Jess Rundletl, Special Projects and Museum Outreach Coordinator, who gave tours and worked with the classes in Panora. “The kids had good questions and seemed to enjoy the non-conventional teachings.”

Rundletl said with school budgets limiting the number of field trips schools can take, the mobile museum is a way to take the experience to the schools.

“It’s awesome to bring the museum out and we’re glad Panorama was willing to have us,” she said.

The idea for the mobile museum emerged in 2014 from a series of community conversations organized by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, which oversees the State Historical Society. Iowans who care deeply about history made it clear that they wanted new ways to access the State Historical Museum’s resources even if they couldn’t visit Des Moines in person.

Anyone who would like to request a visit can find the details online at, along with an updated schedule. (Follow the RV’s statewide journey on Facebook at IowaHistory.)

The traveling exhibition -- which is sponsored by EMC Insurance Companies, Casey’s General Stores and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach -- is one of a trio of “Iowa History 101” shows. Visitors to the State Historical Museum in Des Moines can find both a traditional museum exhibition, plus an interactive Hands-On History gallery designed especially for children.

More information is available at or 515-281- 5111.

Contact Us

Guthrie Center Times
PO Box 217
205 State Street (Dropbox)
Guthrie Center, IA 50115

Guthrie County Vedette
PO Box 38
111 E. Main Street
Panora, IA 50216

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