Collectors, collections, and collecting

Collectors, collections, and collecting

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Passionate collecting sets stage for initial Iowa Humanities Festival

Jim Leach, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, will speak at the first ever Iowa Humanities Festival in Des Moines on March 9. Collectors and collecting is the theme of this inaugural event, which brings together scholars, museum directors, librarians, and personal collectors from across the state.

“Collectors, Collections, and Collecting” is curated by the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies at the University of Iowa, hosted by the Salisbury House and Gardens, and generously supported by Humanities Iowa. Inspired by the long-running Chicago Humanities Festival, the Iowa Humanities Festival is designed to celebrate the continuing importance of art, literature, libraries, museums, and thoughtful reflection on our state’s cultural heritage.

“We look forward to sharing the fascinating work of professors, archivists, and museum leaders from the University of Iowa, Drake, and Grinnell with our fellow Iowans,” says Teresa Mangum, director of the Obermann Center and one of the co-creators of the event.

The festival, which runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., highlights the on-site collections of the Salisbury House, a 42-room manor estate built in the 1920s by cosmetics magnate Carl Weeks and his wife, Edith. The house is filled with the Weeks family’s worldly collections, ranging from rare editions of literature from William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, James Joyce, and D.H. Lawrence, early edition Bibles and Books of Mormon, art collections spanning the globe from Renaissance Europe to Midwestern modernism, Native American art, and musical instruments.

In addition to Leach, featured speakers include faculty from Iowa’s colleges and universities, as well as lead administrators from major art museums and libraries. For a full list visit

Admission is $10 and includes all activities and a box lunch. Tickets are available at the Salisbury House’s website,

Additional co-sponsors of this event include the UI's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Office of the Vice President for Research, UI Libraries, and the UI Museum of Art; Drake University’s Center for Humanities; Grinnell College’s Center for Humanities and Faulconer Gallery; and the Des Moines Art Center, and the Des Moines Public Library.


Neda Barrett, Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, 319-335-4034


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