There is a lot to see and learn when you visit The History Center in the historic Douglas Mansion. Our permanent gallery showcases a number of unique and interesting artifacts, photos, stories and information regarding the history of Linn County's culture, people, businesses, neighborhoods and more.
*Please note that all exhibits and galleries are self-guided.
Days of Disaster: The Douglas Starch Works Explosion, May 22, 1919 and its Aftermath
The History Center commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Douglas Starch Works Explosion, an event with repercussions for the entirety of Linn County – including the workers at the plant, local residents, business owners, and beyond. The exhibit explored the disaster itself as well as the days immediately following. It’s a story of tragedy and resilience – and it’s a story of a community coming together at a moment that could have sown division.
The People’s Art, 1889-1989: One Hundred Years of Calendars from the Thomas D. Murphy Company of Red Oak, Iowa
July 1 – August 25, 1991
Murphy Company calendars have carried works by artists such as Frederick Remington, Charles M. Russell, J. G. Brown, Edwin Lamasure, George Howell Gay, Maxfield Parrish, Maynard Reece, Claude Strachan, and H. J. Dobson. Calendar art often features landscapes, women, children and animals. Among chief values or feelings conveyed by the illustrations are wholesomeness, idealized versions of love and beauty, and a sentimental and benign view of nature, nostalgia, patriotism and light humor. Nearly 80 calendar reproductions are featured in this exhibit, organized by the Montgomery County Historical Society and funded in part by the Iowa Humanities Board and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Mat Hull’s Circus Exhibit
Summers 1990 & 1991
April – July 1990
Remembrances of Toys Past
December 10, 1990 – February 3, 1991
Toys from before the Civil War to recent times, including tin soldiers, are on exhibit. A special attraction is a display of Ives, American Flyer and Lionel trains made in the 1920s through the 1950s. These is also an operating model railroad layout.
A Century of Service to the Nation: Daughters of the American Revolution
The exhibit featured the aims, purposes, and accomplishment of the Society since its founding on October 11, 1890. The information on the people and the objects depicted in the exhibit, and the composition of the display in the museum’s gallery was designed and executed by the Ashley, Marion-Linn and Mayflower Chapters of the Daughter of the American Revolution
Black History Month
This exhibit was a tribute in honor of Black History Month. The exhibit featured material pertaining to social and political issues important to our African American community.
Remembrance of Toys Past
December 1, 1989 – January 14, 1990
The exhibit features a fine collection of toys dating from the 19th through the 20th century. One of the exhibit’s highlights is a collection of over 160 international dolls in traditional costumes representing 70 nations and ethnic groups.
The Corner Store (Pre 1935)
Things That Go Bump in the Night
October – November 1989
The exhibit features photographs of area sites reported to be haunted. The photographs, by John McEnrow and Shellie Kvale, are augmented with a video by Rick Plummer, David Grant and John Wellso. It is not important whether visitors believe the information presented, but that they enjoy the stories as part of the county’s folklore.
The Day a Dream Came True: Conquest of Space with Astronaut John Creighton
After World War II, both the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. initiated advanced rocketry programs, building upon German wartime experience and work of experimental scientists in the respective countries. Telemetry equipment such as that design and built by Dr. James Van Allen and his students, utilizing a variety of high altitude platforms for data-gathering, provided an ever-increasing level of understanding of the fringes of space. The dream of human exploration in space because a goal as military ballistic missiles and experimental aircraft came closer and closer to achieving orbital velocities.
One Hundred Years of Photography