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    People’s Choice

    Congratulations to the following nominees for People’s Choice Site of the Year 2017. Scroll down to learn more about each site. Click on the link below to cast your vote!

    Online voting is March 13-March 17, 2017. The winner will be announced on April 3 at the 2017 Partner Site Annual Meeting.


    African American Museum of Iowa
    The African American Museum of Iowa, located in Cedar Rapids, is working to be more active and with intentional focus on becoming more socially relevant in its partnerships, programming and exhibit execution. These actions enable the museum to give patrons a voice within the current social justice climate. In 2016, the museum collaborated on several events that addressed relevant, contemporary issues. With the Cedar Rapids Public Library, we hosted a screening of The Loving Story, a critically acclaimed documentary about the legal and cultural challenges of interracial dating and marriage during segregation. It tells the story of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple whose legal battle changed history. The Museum’s “South Pacific” program in partnership with Opera Theatre included a musical performance and a thought-provoking panel discussion about inclusion and the arts. The panelists represented various artistic and cultural backgrounds. Every year, the Museum holds a Juneteenth celebration, which is the oldest celebration commemorating the official end of slavery in the United States. During the 2016 celebration, the Museum convened an intergenerational panel that focused on the changing African American community in the Corridor and how each generation handles adversity. A speaker series co-sponsored by the Museum and spearheaded by the Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission have dealt with topics on African American men and women’s issues.

    Motor Mill

    Motor Mill Historic Site
    Located in Elkader, the Motor Mill Historic Site recorded more than 1400 voluntary guest signatures and over 16,000 vehicles visiting the site in 2016. The 1869 limestone grist mill continues to educate visitors on Iowa’s agricultural heritage. Nestled amongst the bluffs of the Turkey River Valley, the heart of the geographically unique Driftless area, rich soils enticed early settlement and the founding of one of Clayton County’s earliest communities, Motor, near Communia. While only a few of the town’s buildings still stand at the site, the 90-feet tall limestone mill stands resolute against an evolving landscape, dotted with Native American mounds, representing the farm to factory heritage inherent throughout Northeast Iowa’s past, present and future. The ten-state Mississippi River Parkway Commission will visit the site during the National Annual Meeting in September of 2017 to learn about Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area, and help share our stories and our mission throughout the nation.


    Cedar Rapids Museum of Art
    In 2016, the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art welcomed 34,000 visitors from across the state, country, and world, to see 19 different exhibitions, including a major exhibition celebrating the 125th anniversary of the births of Iowa artists Grant Wood and Marvin Cone. Other major exhibitions included one of the work of French sculptor Auguste Rodin, an exhibition focusing on the woods and forest in art, an exhibition of 20-year-old Iowa artist Diego Lasansky (grandson of famed printmaker Mauricio Lasansky), and an exhibition exploring the artistic collaboration between Iowa artists and Taiwanese artists in the world of metal arts. The museum’s educational offerings were robust and included 83 tours with 2,218 attendees, 44 school groups serving 1,685 students, 65 family programs for 2,152 people, and 92 adult programs serving 2,777 individuals. In all, the museum hosted approximately 5.5 programs every week, with 31 attendees per program. All of these educational offerings reflect an increase over previous years. These numbers do not include the 49 uses of the facility by the community, which welcomed another 3,287 visitors. We were delighted to receive 51 articles about our exhibitions and programs in the press in 2016–many around Grant Wood and Marvin Cone–ranging from local media outlets to Washington DC, Chicago, and Los Angeles. In so many ways, it was a banner year for the CRMA, and the efforts of the small but hard-working staff is to be commended.


    Montauk Historic Site
    Built in 1874 on a hill overlooking the Turkey River Valley in Clermont, Iowa, Montauk is the historic home of Iowa’s 12th governor, William Larrabee, and his family. Today’s visitors can see all of the family’s original furnishings, including marble sculptures from Italy and an 1885 Swiss music box that still plays melodies. Outside, visitors can admire six bronze statues of Civil War generals (which Gov. Larrabee shipped in from the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair), stroll through the gardens, and tour the original outbuildings, including the barns that housed the family’s prized Brown Swiss cows and the chicken coop where a few clucking Iowa Blues still live. The Larrabees cultivated a wide range of interests and hobbies, and the Montauk staff keeps that spirit alive with an array of year-round programs, including concerts in the parlor, picnics on the lawn and lectures in the carriage house. Some local Future Farmers of America raise grain in the surrounding fields and tend to the apple orchard they’ve replanted with original varieties (researched from Gov. Larrabee’s fastidious records). When the snow flies after the harvest, horse-drawn wagons shuttle visitors up the driveway to see the mansion in its holiday splendor, hung with pine and aglow with lanterns. Music students are often invited to play Christmas carols on the piano, creating memories they and their families don’t soon forget.

    Grout Museum District

    Grout Museum District
    The Grout Museum District (GMD), in Waterloo, serves more than 110,000 visitors each year. The GMD enhances the community’s quality of life by collecting, preserving and interpreting artifacts and stories of farmers, factory workers, entrepreneurs, inventors and military personnel. Sharing stories of the men and women who made this great country, state and community into what it is today. Visitors play and learn at the Bluedorn Science Imaginarium, an interactive science center that provides fun, hands-on exhibits and live science demonstrations. Guests can explore more than 90 different exhibits and marvel at the aquariums and enclosures that are home to a variety of amphibians, fish, reptiles, snakes and arachnids. The Grout Museum of History & Science is made up of both permanent and temporary exhibitions. Visitors can take in a planetarium show and learn all about the history of the Cedar Valley, including its rich industrial and agricultural history. The GMD is also home to two elegant Victorian homes: the Snowden House and the Rensselaer Russell House Museum. Both homes are on the Registry of Historic Homes. The Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum has been an outstanding addition to the GMD since 2008. In 2016, the GMD saw 114,145 visitors from 37 different states and countries. These visitors experienced the museum’s unique combination of traditional and state of the art interactive exhibit displays. The museum appeals to everyone, drawing tourists throughout the country.


    Wapsipinicon Mill Museum
    The Wapsipinicon Mill has been a Partner Site of Silos and Smokestacks since the very beginning of the Silos era. The five story brick veneer mill was built in 1867-70 and will be celebrating 150 years this year. It is a local icon on the Wapsipinicon River in downtown Independence. Open as a museum from mid May through mid Sept. each year it provides exhibits, displays and many hands-on features for all to enjoy. A very picturesque beauty standing tall to meet you on 1st St. W. The Buchanan Co. Historical Society has owned the building since 1976 and each year adds to the exhibits – many funded by Silos & Smokestacks, Independence Hotel/Motel tax, McElroy Grant, Guernsey Foundation, Buchanan Co. Board of Supervisors and many local businesses and the general public. Please vote for the mill as “Site of the Year”.

    In 2017 the Putnam Museum and Science Center in Davenport, Iowa, is celebrating its 150th Birthday. Since 1867, the Putnam has been showcasing the region’s natural and cultural history, tracing the growth of both Silos and Smokestacks across the landscape. Our exhibit Black Earth Big River traces the evolution of our environment from inland sea to forest, wetland, prairie and farmland. River, Prairie and People, follows the immigrants who settled here and the many industries that have contributed to our economy over time. We enable our visitors to experience other cultures through our Asian and Egyptian galleries plus changing exhibits and films in the National Geographic Giant Screen Theater. The Putnam continues to grow and respond to the needs and interests of over 150,000 visitors each year by hosting world-class traveling exhibitions on topics ranging from the inventions of Leonardo Da Vinci to dinosaurs to the Beatles. In 2014, recognizing the need to inspire youth to pursue careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), we completed our Science Center. Over 40 hands-on stations allow exploration of simple machines, electricity, rocket propulsion, and more while accompanying career information helps connect these activities to possible futures. After 150 years the Putnam remains a vibrant, forward-looking institution dedicated to preserving our region’s history, connecting us to other cultures, and educating visitors of all ages.
    There is not one Iowa State Fair. There are over one million Iowa State Fairs because each visitor has their own unique experience and memories of their Iowa State Fair. The 2016 Iowa State Fair marketing campaign. “Nothing Compares to My Iowa State Fair,” was an opportunity to share those individual stories in an engaging and impactful manner. For the past several years, the Iowa State Fair has consistently topped 1 million visitors. The Fair is proud of that number and the goal is to always maintain one million plus attendance level. The Iowa State Fair has a special place in the hearts of Iowans and many people throughout the country who regularly attend. By allowing real fairgoers to share stories about their unique fair experiences, we could tell a handful of those one million stories, while demonstrating how the Iowa State Fair can be a personal experience for each and every visitor.

    Topics: General