A gala at the State Historical Building in Des Moines tonight will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the facility. Governor Terry Branstad got a tour of the vault in the basement of the State Historical Building earlier this month as he announced plans for tonight’s gala.
The event not only celebrates a milestone in the building’s history, it also is raising funds to help in the updating of the public exhibits. State curator, Jerome Thompson, says most museums display only about 10-percent of their collection at any one time.
“We have over a hundred thousand objects in the collection, ranging in size from flags and automobiles and tractors to political campaign buttons and everything inbetween. The museum has been collecting for 120 years,” Thompson says. Governor Branstad oversaw the state committee that recommended the new building be built back when he was lieutenant governor in the late 1970s.
The idea was to bring all the items from the Historical Society under one roof and be sure they were properly taken care of. The state spent millions to construct the Historical Building, but Thompson says the items inside usually don’t cost the state anything.
“They’re largely donated. Almost everything in the collection has been a gift of some way or another,” according to Thompson. “In the 1920s and ’30s some of the Native American collections were acquired with fund that were donated to the department for that particular purpose.”
Tonight’s gala runs seven until 11 p.m.