God Bless America, Seward Johnson’s 25-foot version of the famous American Gothic couple, is no longer on campus. We were terribly sorry to see it go but pleased that after last minute negotiations, Des Moines businessman and philanthropist Bill Knapp was able to get the statue to the Iowa State Fairgrounds, where it now stands between the Agriculture Building and the Livestock Pavilion. It seems only fitting that this three dimensional version of Iowa's most famous couple graces our historic fairgrounds. It will be there through September 1, so enjoy the fair—August 7 through August 17—and see the statue once again.
Actually, the Iowa State Fair will be our focus next spring. We will be exhibiting photographer Kurt Ullrich’s new collection of beautiful black-and white-images of the fair, mid-February through March 2015. These photos, along with some short essays, will be published this summer in a book titled The Iowa State Fair as part of our Iowa and the Midwest Experience book series, in partnership with the University of Iowa Press. Then in March, we will have Ullrich, architectural historian Tom Leslie, and historian Chris Rasmussen, who has a cultural history of the fair coming out in our series next summer, present a program on the fair.
We have great events planned for the fall as well. In September, author Joseph Weber will discuss his book, Transcendental Meditation in America: How a New Age Movement Remade a Small Town in Iowa (also part of our Iowa and the Midwest Experience book series), which examines the impact of the movement on Fairfield, Iowa. Then in November, nationally acclaimed writer and journalist Colin Woodard will discuss his much talked about book, American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America.
Please check back for details, and as always, please send me any comments or suggestions.
Director, Iowa History Center