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.

  David Plowden: A Sense of Place

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 1980’s, 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, document, 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."

  Barns of Iowa

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.



  David Plowden’s Iowa

Humanities Iowa worked with renown 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 still available for purchase from Humanities Iowa. The cost is $25, which includes shipping and handling. If interested, please email: humanities-iowa@uiowa.edu, or call (319) 335-4153.