Area elementary students get sneak peek at interactive displays that will tour Iowa

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The University of Iowa Mobile Museum unveiled a new look inside and out during a special visit to Lucas Elementary School in Iowa City on April 7. Students, teachers, and staff were among the first to see the museum’s new exhibits for its second season.

“The Lucas community feels fortunate to partner with the University of Iowa for this mobile museum experience,” says Karrie Merriweather, Lucas Elementary principal. “We’re hoping the students will take what they’ve seen today back to the classroom with them.”

The Mobile Museum was launched in 2014 as a partnership between the UI Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development and two of its reporting units, the Office of the State Archaeologist and the Pentacrest Museums, with the mission of bringing exhibits with cutting-edge research, one-of-a-kind artifacts, and interactive digital media to Iowa’s communities statewide.

During its first year, the Mobile Museum visited 48 Iowa communities across 36 counties, seeing 33,433 visitors. This year’s travel plans include RAGBRAI and the Iowa State Fair, along with other community events and school visits.

“The Mobile Museum exceeded our wildest expectations during its inaugural tour last year, bringing vivid and interactive displays about Iowa’s history to schools, civic groups and fairs in communities across the state,” says Daniel Reed, UI vice president for research and economic development. “With completely redesigned displays focusing on water, World War II and space, we look forward to visiting even more communities and sharing the story of Iowa’s landscape, people, and achievements.”

The museum features three new exhibits:

  • Water Underground: The Science of Iowa’s Most Essential Resource introduces the chemistry of water, Iowa’s bedrock aquifer systems, and arsenic pollution in drinking water. It highlights contributions and research from the Department of Chemistry/Water Sustainability Initiative, Iowa Geological Survey, and the Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination.
  • Hawkeyes in Space: Space Exploration at the University of Iowa highlights the UI Department of Physics and Astronomy's contributions to space exploration since the 1950s, highlighting three major events in that history: Explorer 1 in 1958, Voyager 1 in 1977, and the launch of the Van Allen probes in 2013.
  • Over Here From Over There: Iowans in World War II tells the story of Iowans in World War II and shares the lives and contributions of Iowans through letters, diaries, photographs, and artifacts from UI Libraries Special Collections and University Archives.

The Mobile Museum will be at the Mid-America Paleontology Society's National Fossil Expo at Sharpless Auctions, 5049 Herbert Hoover Highway, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 10 and 11.

The Mobile Museum will also be open to the public at the Adler Journalism Building from 12:30 to 3 p.m. Monday, April 13, as part of its campus launch party. 

The Mobile Museum is equipped with a wheelchair lift. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in these programs, contact the Mobile Museum in advance at 319-335-2898.

In addition to new physical displays, the museum also features a revamped digital wall, highlighting research and creative activity in a variety of UI departments. Staff, students, and faculty from more than 20 groups on campus contributed to the museum’s updated content.

Additionally, a group of eight students in the College of Education are developing education materials to help teachers tie the content of the Water Underground exhibit to school curriculum at a variety of grade levels. Also involved in the exhibit are students from the Jacobson Institute for Youth Entrepreneurship in the Tippie College of Business. The exhibit partners, who were selected through a competitive proposal process, see unique opportunities from participating in the Mobile Museum.

“The water sustainability initiative group is excited to be a part of the Mobile Museum because it’s a great way to connect with people all over the state of Iowa,” says Tori Forbes, assistant professor of chemistry whose work is highlighted in the Water Underground exhibit. “It's also a unique way to talk to everyone about the basic science of water and how groundwater quality and quantity impacts everyone's lives.”

To learn more about the Mobile Museum or to plan a visit, visit or email