The 11th annual Celebrate Iowa Gala organized by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs is rapidly approaching.

The Department’s Michael Morain, says they dig into the archives to bring history out for the night. “Every year we assemble different pieces of Iowa art and history and culture into one big showcase of the state’s Greatest Hits,” he says. “And over 11 years, we’ve established some favorites, some things that keep coming back year after year.”

He says one of the most popular features is the portrait studio where guests can have their portraits drawn by local artists. Iowa artists fellow, Julia Franklin, is unveiling a piece of artwork at the event.”It’s a multi-layered piece of artwork that she has built with old copies of the Annals of Iowa, the flagship journal of the State Historical Society. And you can see as she’s building this installation, you can see the physical layers of history built layer upon layer into kind of a quilt-like collage of Iowa history,” Morain says.

Morain says Iowa has made so many important contributions to history that sometimes get forgotten. “That’s one of the things that is the most fun to highlight with the Celebrate Iowa Gala– it’s right in the name — there are things in Iowa to celebrate. And I think as Iowans we are often too humble. And we assume that the important stuff happened elsewhere,” Morain says.

There are many more things planned for the event that will be at the Scottish Rite Consistory in downtown Des Moines on December 9th. “It’s a chance for Iowans to get together and really think about the things that unite us as Iowans that really tie us together and that we can, hang our hat on and walk a little taller and be proud of being Iowans from a state that has contributed a lot to the country and even the world,” he says.

You can purchase tickets online at