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Past Exhibits

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Van Meter: Powering Progress for 95 Years

January 2024

Explore Van Meter's evolution over the last 95 years. From its modest beginnings, in 1928, to becoming a large recognized industry leader. The exhibit highlights key milestones, the impact of employee ownership, and the company's resilience in the face of challenges; providing a captivating narrative of community, innovation, and the people behind Van Meter's enduring success.

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Cultivating Curiostiy: Exploring Iowa Agriculture

November 2023

Step into a world of farm-fresh fun designed just for kids under 10 and their families.  This children-based agricultural exhibit will provide an educational and interactive experience that promotes learning about agriculture, farming practices and the importance of agriculture in our daily lives.

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Bruce & Nola Bucknell: Partners in Puppetry

June 2023

The Bucknell Marionettes are well-known as exemplary puppets in circles of experts but are better remembered by Linn County residents for the joy and wonder they inspired during school and public performances. Relive the magic of childhood through this exhibition or share your memories with the next generation!

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Occupied Wounded Knee 1973

January 2023

This exhibit commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee, South Dakota and the trials that followed. It explores the role of Linn County in the trials of American Indian Movement members and the outcome of negotiations between indigenous people and the U.S. government.

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Alliant Energy: 140 Years Powering Progress

September 2022

Alliant Energy has been powering the lives of Linn County residents since 1882, when the Cedar Rapids Light and Power Company was founded. This exhibition explores the electrifying history of Alliant Energy from its early days through today.

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Running Toward Danger

May 2022

When disaster strikes, first responders with the proper training and equipment run toward the danger, bringing help and hope along with them. This exhibit explores the history of local  firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, and law enforcement.

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An American Dream: The Lebanese Immigrant

February 2022

Early Lebanese immigrants came to Iowa with high hopes for a better way of life. Many started out as peddlers and progressed to become grocers and business owners. This exhibit illustrates the challenges and success of the men and women as they forged a new life by investing in both their families and Cedar Rapids.

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Fashion & Philanthropy: The Armstrong Family

August 2021

For three generations and over 100 years, the Armstrongs invested in the future of Linn County through incorporating new technology, improving city infrastructure, and fighting for more inclusive hiring and housing practices. Explore the lasting impact of the family behind the beloved Armstrong's Department Store. 

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Victory: Adaption to Peace

August 2021

By the end of World War II, more than 400,000 Americans had lost their lives, and life on the home front had been permanently altered.  Explore the lasting impact of the war as veterans returned home and settled into life: purchasing homes, pursuing education, building families and re-adjusting to the job market, which included women.

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Spirited: Prohibition in America

June 2021

During the era of Prohibition, Americans no longer could manufacture, sell, or transport intoxicating beverages from 1920 until 1933. Spirited: Prohibition in America explores this tumultuous time in American history, when flappers and suffragists, bootleggers and temperance lobbyists, and legends, such as Al Capone and Carry Nation, took sides in this battle against the bottle. 

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Exhibiting Bias: Iowa's Contradictory Civil Rights History

November 2020

Iowa prides itself on its history of advancing civil rights ahead of the nation, but progress is rarely a straight line. Iowa's efforts to ensure the rights of women, people of color, the LGBTQ community and others have sometimes fallen short of fully addressing the inequities endured by these groups. Explore the stories of those most often marginalized by history.

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UFG: A Business of People

July 2020

The History Center is happy to announce a new exhibition in the West Gallery in celebration of UFG’s 75 years of successful business in Cedar Rapids. The exhibition will focus on the people who make UFG great and their contributions to the community.

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HERStory: Women at Work

April 2020

The History Center commemorates the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. Women won the fight for the vote, impacting all areas of life. The exhibit explores the changing role of women in the workplace.

Days of Disaster: The Douglas Starch Works Explosion

April 2019

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. 

Snapshots by William Baylis, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

September 2017

The exhibition “Snapshots by William Baylis” highlights the numerous works of William Baylis in both print and postcard formats. Baylis was born on September 12, 1873 in Wheatland, Iowa. At the age of 15, Baylis relocated with his family to Cedar Rapids where he developed an interest in photography. With a successful career spanning decades, Baylis is credited with shooting close to 25,000 photographs of early Linn County.  

William Baylis, landscape photographer of eastern Iowa, captured Linn County at the turn of the 20th century. Busy street scenes of long ago are frozen in time and cinematic landscapes offer up visuals of days long since past. Come enjoy these snapshots of Linn County and experience the artistic personality of William Baylis through his true-to-life prints and postcards.

The Old Ball Game: A History of Baseball in Linn County

September 2016

Baseball is a sport loved by young and old. The roots of the National Pastime in Linn County go back over 150 years to games played by men newly returned home after the Civil War. Through photographs and artifacts from The History Center’s collection – as well as loaned objects – visitors to The Old Ball Game exhibit will discover local baseball history. From the first teams organized in Marion to the Manufacturer & Jobbers League, which included teams from Quaker Oats, Collins Radio, and Iowa Manufacturing, to the evolution of minor league baseball in Cedar Rapids, The Old Ball Game explores the  game from a variety of perspectives. 

As Long As the City Stands: Honoring Judge George Greene

October 2015

The story of Judge George Greene—for whom Greene Square is named—is the story of the founding of the second largest city in Iowa. Greene brought the railroad to Cedar Rapids, donated the land and first $25,000 for the first hospital (which became St. Luke’s Hospital), and was instrumental in founding Coe College, among many other contributions. His vision and tenacity made Cedar Rapids a significant city. 

The History Center has many items in its collection pertaining to Greene on display. In addition, the Sisters of Mercy have loaned several items from their collection, including the silver service presented to Greene on July 4, 1876 by the city of Cedar Rapids. The service has not been seen publicly since that presentation. The exhibit takes its name from the presentation of the silver service. In his remarks, one of Greene’s peers declared, “Cedar Rapids shall pay thanks and blessings to the name of Judge Greene and honor to his memory as long as the city stands.” 

The exhibit introduces visitors to Greene around 1840 with the true story of Greene stopping his horse somewhere near where the Scottish Rite Temple now stands. He looked about and stated, “In 40 years, 40,000 people will live, work and thrive here.” 

While it took somewhat longer to reach that mark, Greene’s vision for the city was strong. The exhibit tells the story of how he planned each step that made his dream a reality. As Long as the City Stands: Honoring Judge George Greene is made possible, in part, by a gift from the Mike and Esther Wilson Donor Advised Fund of the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation. The exhibit is a collaboration with the Cedar Rapids Public Library. 

Tales of a Pioneer Woman: Life on the Prairie 1850-1880

June 2014

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Apron Strings: Ties to the Past

May 2014

This collection features fifty-one vintage and contemporary examples that review the apron’s role as an emotionally charged vehicle for expression with a rich and unique craft history. Using aprons dating from the late 1930s through the present, the exhibition chronicles changing attitudes toward women and domestic work. It also surveys the wide range of design and craft techniques apron-makers have used to express themselves. The exhibition is toured by ExhibitsUSA, a national program of Mid-America Arts Alliance. ExhibitsUSA sends more than 25 exhibitions on tour to more than 100 communities every year.

Parents Just Don’t Understand! Coming of Age in Linn County

August 2012

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Corn County

August 2010

Today, Iowa alone produces 9 percent of corn globally. In Linn County the corn processing industry has been and continues to be one of the most significant economic engines in the area. The story of corn is woven into the landscape of Iowa and into our own daily lives. The Carl & Mary Koehler History Center’s latest exhibit, “Corn County” explores the many ways that we rely on corn. The exhibit and related programs are funded in part through a grant from Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area and a corporate donation from ADM.

Quilts

January 2010

A quilt is a window into the life and soul of its creator. Its fabrics, patterns and stitching tell a story about the person and times from whence it came. Stroll through the “Quilts” exhibit and discover the history told through these magical pieces of folk art.

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