UPCOMING GUEST IMPACT:
Now-Summer 2020 - Library and Archives entrance on Grand Avenue is closed through the duration of renovation. Please use Museum and Café entrance on Grand Avenue.
Temporary Exhibit Closure - To ensure the safety of visitors and the museum artifacts, our "Visible Vault" exhibit will be closed to the public beginning Dec. 2, 2019, and reopen after renovations are completed in 2020.
View building and parking map for directions.
Renovations at the State Historical Building of Iowa will take place from summer 2019 through summer 2020. The renovations will focus on replacing pipes, skylights and the roof. Some aspects of the project will take place behind-the-scenes while others will be more visible.
The building will remain open to the public during regular hours throughout the project, but visitors may notice some temporary changes. If you're planning a visit, please check this website for updates, as some entrances and portions of museum exhibits may close temporarily. The museum's three historic planes also have been placed into temporary storage, and staff is working with Anna Weiss-Pfau from the American Institute for Conservation to assess the planes and complete a conservation report.
We will post news about our progress, along with information to help you visit the State Historical Museum, Library & Archives Research Center, plan a field trip or group visit or rent the facility. If you have any questions, please call us at 515-281-5111.
We appreciate your patience as we make necessary repairs to protect and preserve the state's vast collection for years to come.
Although the building will remain open during regular hours throughout the renovation, visitors may notice some temporary changes. If you're planning a visit, please check this website for updates, as some entrances and portions of exhibits may close temporarily. If you have any questions, please call us at 515-281-5111.
The Library and Archives Research Center in Des Moines has moved to a temporary location on the first level of the building. All materials will still be available; however, due to limited space in the temporary location, some additional collections will be retrieved by our staff. To make the most of your visit, please read about collection retrieval and feel free to contact us ahead of time – especially if you are visiting from out of town or out of state.
Field Trips & Group Visits
The museum will remain open during regular hours, but space in the atrium will be limited. You can continue to schedule school or group visits for the 2019-2020 school year.
Temporary Exhibit Closures
To ensure the safety of visitors and the museum artifacts, our "Visible Vault" exhibit will be closed to the public beginning Dec. 2, 2019, and reopen after renovations are completed in 2020. Museum exhibits will remain open to the public during renovations, but portions of some exhibits will close from time to time. We will closely manage these closures to minimize the impact to visitors, and we thank you for your patience.
The building will not be available for rent until summer 2020. To reserve future dates, please contact us.
Built in 1987 as a center for history and culture, the State Historical Building of Iowa is where you’ll find the state's flagship history museum, historical library and state archives research center, and the offices of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, which oversees the State Historical Society of Iowa, State Historic Preservation Office, Iowa Arts Council and Produce Iowa, the State Office of Media Production.
The renovation follows several years of careful planning and preparation to help the building provide better protection from the elements and, ultimately, preserve the historic collection for years to come. The structural changes should put an end to weather-related water leaks that have threatened to damage historical materials and caused problems for visitors and staff.
Some changes have already taken place, including the replacement of several pipes. The rest of the renovation entails replacing the original skylights with a new roof and window wall – all designed to safeguard the building’s interior and make the most of natural light.
The research center also will be redesigned to better serve the public, including students, genealogists and other researchers in the 21st century.
"These necessary renovations will ensure a safe and secure facility to house the collections that are vital to tell our state's stories," according to an open letter from the State Historical Society of Iowa Board of Trustees. “Our history is important. It unites us as Iowans, explains our past, provides understanding of the present and informs our future.”
Here is a look at what has already happened and what to expect in the next few months.
|Spring 2019||Pre-construction work finishes. The coal mine exhibit closes.|
|June 2019||Research Center reopens in a temporary location on the first floor.|
|July-August 2019||Staff and volunteers rearrange research equipment, furniture and 6,500 linear feet -- about a mile and a quarter -- of historic documents, photos and other materials within the building, keeping the collection on-site but safeguarded from construction. Read progress update.|
|September-October 2019||Moving specialists from Methods & Materials in Chicago de-install three historic planes and move the iconic Des Moines Register globe from the atrium to temporary storage. Conservation experts will assess the planes and identify necessary conservation work.|
|October 2019||Exterior fencing goes up around the building, closing the building’s north entrances. All visitors will need to use the main entrance on Locust Street until November 24, 2019. Temporary walls are installed in the atrium.|
|Fall 2019-Spring 2020||Work continues on the skylights, roof and research center.|
|Summer 2020||The renovation is complete.|
Frequently Asked Questions
Will the building stay open?
Yes. The museum, research center, administrative offices and Café Baratta's will remain open during regular hours.
Where should I park?
Free parking is still available in the ramp just north of the building, on the northwest corner of Grand and Pennsylvania avenues. Otherwise, metered parking is available throughout the neighborhood.
How do I get in the building?
Please use the main entrance under the portico on Locust Street or the Museum and Café entrance on Grand Avenue. Library and Archives entrance on Grand Avenue is closed through the duration of renovation.
Will the building be ADA accessible?
Yes. All visitors, including those with limited mobility, can enter on Locust Street or Grand Avenue and use the building's elevators. Several wheelchairs are available for check-out at the front desk.
Will the exhibits stay open?
Yes. Portions of certain exhibits may close from time to time, but most galleries will remain open. We will post updates about temporary closures on this website. Bonus: A new Iowa Caucuses exhibit, called "First in the Nation," is open to the public.
What about that mammoth?
Don't worry. The replica skeleton and woolly model of an Ice Age mammoth will remain on display in the atrium.
How does this affect the research center?
The research center has moved to a temporary location on the main floor, accessible from the atrium. Our staff will be happy to help you find materials that have been relocated. As always, we encourage you to submit a reference request ahead of time to make the most of your visit.
Can school groups still visit?
Yes. As always, we encourage schools and other groups to visit. We’d be happy to help you plan and schedule a field trip throughout the renovation.