The State Historical Museum of Iowa is in the State Historical Building of Iowa, just west of the State Capitol in Des Moines. The building also houses one of two State Historical Society of Iowa Research Centers, including the State Historical Library and Archives.
The building remains open to the public during its current renovations, scheduled through winter 2022, but visitors may notice some temporary changes. If you’re planning to visit, please check online for updates about the renovation.
- Learn about life in Iowa before it became a state and the many changes that took place when settlers arrived.
- Explore Iowa’s rich natural resources and the balance between using and preserving them.
- Discover what inspired more than 76,000 Iowans to fight for the Union during the Civil War and the role they played in the bloodiest chapter of U.S. history.
- Explore Iowa’s legacy on the silver screen from the early 1900s to today.
- Discover Iowa’s bicycling history, including the colorful story of RAGBRAI, the Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa.
Stop by the information desk on the first floor for a map, children’s activities and further details about exhibits and programs.
9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Closed on state holidays.
Research Center Hours
Admission to the museum and research center is free.
The building is wheelchair accessible, and a limited number of wheelchairs are available for visitors’ use.
Food and Drink
No food or drink is allowed in the exhibit galleries or research center.
Free parking is available in the garage across the street, at the northwest corner of East Grand and Pennsylvania avenues. Metered street parking is also available.
The museum houses more than 80,000 artifacts, of which about 1,500 objects are on display at any given time. More objects from the collection are on display in the State Capitol and on loan to other museums in Iowa.
Programs and Workshops
The State Historical Society of Iowa provides a variety of programs for students, lifelong learners and various groups at the museum, online, and at other venues statewide. These include activities with Goldie's Kids Club, the museum’s popular program for children and families.