Our exhibits present humanities issues in a visual format by lending portable exhibits to schools, libraries, banks, museums, businesses and city governments for public display. If you are interested in one of the following exhibits please contact our office for more details.
This is a collection of 46 mounted black and white photographs of rural and small town Iowa by photographer David Plowden. Dating from the mid 1980s, they document the disappearing face of the rural Iowa landscape. The photographs were jointly contracted and are held by the State Historical Society of Iowa and Humanities Iowa. A book by the same title was published in 1988 by the State Historical Society of Iowa in association with W. W. Norton & Company, New York/London. These photographs have also been shown at the State Historical Building in Des Moines with text written by Dorothy Schwieder, Professor Emerita of History at Iowa State University and recognized expert on Midwestern history.
For four decades, the award-winning photographer has documented our country’s vanishing landscapes and artifacts. His iconic black and white photographs of landscapes, buildings, and individuals collectively define life in 20th-century urban and rural America. Since 1952, when he began to photograph steam locomotives, David Plowden has studied, documented and commented upon the transformation of America. He has described himself as "an archaeologist with a camera" who has spent his life "one step ahead of the wrecking ball." "I have been beset," Plowden says, "with a sense of urgency to record those parts of our heritage which seem to be receding as quickly as the view from the rear of a speeding train. I fear that we are eradicating the evidence of our past accomplishments so quickly that in time we may well lost the sense of who we are."
This collection of twenty 11 x 18 inch black and white photos captures the nostalgic beauty of barns as well as the enduring pride of the farmers who built them. Michael Harker began photographing these structures in 1993 with his rare artistic approach—shooting only one photo of each barn—one view of the facade, interior, or architectural detail that conveys its individual story. The actual barns are disappearing from Iowa at a rate of a thousand a year, but Harker’s images visually preserve a foundation of the agrarian life—a piece of our Iowan identity. Featured by the Smithsonian Institution, Barns of Iowa has been exhibited at the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site in West Branch, the Department of Agriculture building in Des Moines, and at the State Historical Society of Iowa. Distinctive descriptions written by Loren Horton, retired Senior Historian of the State Historical Society, accompany the photos. Photographer Michael Harker was also a part of HI’s Speakers Bureau.
Please consult with the Humanities Iowa office for transportation and setup of this exhibit. This exhibit must be picked up and returned by private vehicle to the HI office.
The Barns of Iowa poster is available for purchase through Humanities Iowa. Please contact us for pricing details.
Humanities Iowa worked with renowned photographer David Plowden to develop an exhibit entitled David Plowden’s Iowa and and accompanying book. Proclaimed ‘an American treasure’ by historian David McCullough, David Plowden trained under the great masters of 20th century photography, including Minor White, Nathan Lyons, O. Winston Link and shadow. Plowden’s exhibition, The Hand of Man on America, set the record for longest touring production of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, and the Beinecke Library at Yale will curate his body of work for prosperity. David Plowden’s Iowa is the collected work of an American master on his favorite state to photograph. The exhbition features familiar rural and small town scenes all Iowans associate with home, especially Iowa’s grain mills and storage bins.
Copies of David Plowden’s Iowa are available for purchase from Humanities Iowa. The cost is $25, which includes shipping and handling. If interested, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (319) 335-4149.