Art, Galleries & Museums
Family Museum Website Design Honored by Interactive Media Awards PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Art, Galleries & Museums
Written by Elly Gerdts   
Monday, 07 July 2014 13:48

(BETTENDORF, Iowa) – The Family Museum’s website has received the 2014 Best in Class award in the family category for excellence in the design, development and implementation of, a nonprofit facility geared around enriching the lives of area children. This marks the first web award for this organization.


The honor, granted by the Interactive Media Awards (IMA), recognizes the website as surpassing the standards of excellence comprising the web’s most professional work. Judging consisted of various criteria, including content, design, and feature functionality. In order to win this award, the site had to meet strict guidelines in each area.


The Family Museum was competing with 32 other websites and earned 480 out of a possible 500 points which puts it in the top award level. Jeff Reiter, Director, accepted the award with gratitude and excitement, “I wish to acknowledge the work of Elly Gerdts and Terrostar Interactive Media on this project, and I would like to thank the Family Museum Foundation who funded the new website. Elly, the Family Museum’s Marketing Coordinator, did an amazing job of developing the content and coordinating with Terrostar the functionality and usability of the site.”


About the Family Museum
The Family Museum, a department of the City of Bettendorf, is a hands-on interactive children’s museum inspired by the Quad Cities. Centrally located in Bettendorf, Iowa, this museum offers young children a chance to discover how food moves from the modern farm to the local store through activities such as driving a combine, moving grain, and caring for animals in the farm exhibit. Visitors add obstacles or raise and lower water levels as they watch a boat make its journey down a 28-foot waterplay table resembling an actual stretch of the Mississippi River. Guests chat with their neighbors or wave to the mail carrier in the town square exhibit which includes features of everyday life such as park benches, a streetlight, post office, and a fire station. For more information visit

About the Interactive Media Awards
The Interactive Media Awards recognize the highest standards of excellence in website design and development and honor individuals and organizations for their outstanding achievement. Sponsored by the Interactive Media Council, Inc., a nonprofit organization of leading web designers, developers, programmers, advertisers and other web-related professionals, the competition seeks to elevate the standards of excellence on the internet. For more information, visit

About Terrostar Interactive Media
Founded in 1999 by Tom Terronez, current owner and president, Terrostar is a Bettendorf, Iowa, based interactive media agency. Learning the business of each customer and working to develop a uniquely identifying presence is the main focus of this Quad Cities interactive agency. Specialties include web design, brand development, content marketing, social media strategy, search engine optimization, and digital media buying. More information can be found at

New Exhibition to Open, “Railroads of Muscatine County” PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Art, Galleries & Museums
Written by Lynn Bartenhagen   
Monday, 07 July 2014 13:41

June 29, 2014 – January 25, 2015

Since 1855 when the first railroad line was constructed in Muscatine, the City has laid claim to over 35 named railroads. Some helped the City prosper while others were merely proposed or were new names adopted by active railroads as they grew or came out of bankruptcy. The exhibition, “Railroads of Muscatine County”, includes artifacts, photographs, and artwork to explore the histories of the local railroads. Among the railroads features in the exhibition are the Rock Island Lines, the Muscatine City Railway Company, and the Muscatine & Iowa City Railway, which did not survive its first year from incorporation.

“Railroads of Muscatine County” contains interesting facts such as the details that earned the Muscatine, Burlington & Southern Railroad Company the nickname, “The Maimed, Burned & Scalded Railway”. The exhibition features engaging components for the young and the ‘young at heart’ including a toy train table, a step-on caboose, and working “O and S Gauge” model railroads.

The 1850s brought some of the first railroad milestones in the Midwest. The first land grant railroad in the United States was completed with the arrival of the Illinois Central in the area of East Dubuque, Illinois. The first railroad bridge to span the Mississippi River connected Rock Island, Illinois and Davenport, Iowa, and was completed in 1856. President Abraham Lincoln signed the Pacific Railway Act in 1862 to authorize construction of the first transcontinental railroad.

Leaders throughout Iowa recognized that the railroad would be an important tool in transporting goods, raw materials and passengers into and out of their communities. Towns competed with each other to attract railroad lines. Considerable capital and years of planning and constructing were required to launch a new railway line. Mississippi River towns like Muscatine relied on the river for the transportation of goods, but the railway system greatly expanded the town’s ability to quickly reach new markets, especially those to the west.

The supply of fresh produce from the Muscatine Island was a key factor in launching the Muscatine North & South Railroad. There was a constant shortage of railcars to haul produce by the Rock Island System and as a result, produce rotted while waiting for shipment. The Muscatine North & South Railroad incorporated on February 15, 1893 with the first train running on January 20, 1899.

The Muscatine North & South Railroad, like other railroads in the area, faced receivership (corporate bankruptcy), multiple reorganizations, buyouts and breakups of the railway line. Rail lines were marginally profitable, and as better roads and more affordable automobiles were introduced, many rail lines were scrapped. Even the longest-lived lines in Muscatine, such as the Rock Island Lines, underwent consolidations, bankruptcy and buyouts. The Muscatine & Iowa City Railway was the shortest-lived interurban in the State of Iowa, running for only six months in 1916, while other lines were started and abandoned unfinished.

Since 1855 when the first railroad line was constructed in Muscatine, the City has laid claim to over 35 named railroads. Some helped the City prosper while others were merely proposed or were name changes employed by active railroads as they grew or came out of bankruptcy. In the early 1900s, Muscatine had four active railroads, two inter-urbans and a city trolley system.

“Railroads of Muscatine County” opened at the Annual Ice Cream Social on Sunday, June 29th with activities from 1 to 5 p.m. The exhibition will run through January 25, 2015.



Activity: Opening of Exhibition, “Railroads of Muscatine”

When: Sunday, June 29

Time: 1:00 – 5:00 PM (During the Annual Ice Cream Social)

Where: Muscatine Art Center

Admission to this event is FREE.


Activity: “Muscatine Railroad History” Talk and Guided Tour will Bill Lindsay

When: Sunday, July 20th and Sunday, August 17

Time: 2:00 – 3:00 PM

Where: Muscatine Art Center

Admission to this event is FREE.

Description: Join local railroad enthusiast, Bill Lindsay, for a talk and guided-tour of the exhibition, “Railroads of Muscatine County”. Bill will share his knowledge of the seven main lines which serviced Muscatine such as the Rock Island Line; Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern; Muscatine North & South; and the Muscatine City Railway. This program is FREE.


Activity: “Grass Between the Rails” by Denny Rehder

When: Thursday, September 4th

Time: 5:30 PM

Where: Muscatine Art Center

Admission to this event is FREE. This program is sponsored by Humanities Iowa.

Description: “Grass Between the Rails” celebrates Iowa's railroad heritage with a unique blend of stories and original folk songs about the development of railroads in Iowa. The subjects cover events of national importance such as the race across Iowa to connect with the transcontinental railroad to the West, and local history, including the poor service offered by the "Slow Norwegian." Other topics include the somber "Worst Wreck Ever," a farm boy's remembrance of "The One Elephant Circus," and the rollicking "Doodlebug."


Denny Rehder, is a local historian. His avocation for nearly fifty years has been music. Now that musical ability is combined with another avocation - Iowa railroad history - to offer a program on this overlooked part of Iowa's past. Rehder has been involved as author, editor, publisher, photographer or researcher in the publication of seven books on subjects from Iowa history. He is a native of Gladbrook who grew up watching the trains of the Chicago Great Western mainline.

The Muscatine Art Center is open to the public Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 AM to 5 PM, Thursday from 10 AM to 7 PM and Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 PM Admission is FREE.

Figge Art Museum Major Gift and Gallery Dedication PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Art, Galleries & Museums
Written by Natalie Dunlop   
Friday, 27 June 2014 10:04

Davenport, Iowa (June 25, 2014) – The Figge Art Museum has received a major gift of $500,000 from the estate of Ruth Evelyn Katz gifted by son Marty Katz of Moline in honor of his late parents Isador and Ruth Evelyn Katz and his late sister Judith Katz.

The second floor Print Gallery will be renamed The Katz Gallery gifted in memory of Isador, Ruth Evelyn and Judith Katz by the Katz Family. A private invitation-only dedication will take place on July 3 when 200 guests will gather to honor the extraordinary contributions of the Katz family to the Quad Cities arts community.

“The Katz family is pleased to make this contribution to the Figge Art Museum,” said Marty Katz, son of Isador and Ruth Evelyn. “My parents loved this country and the community. Though they were not immigrants, they were not far removed from the immigrant experience and realized how fortunate they were to have been born in a country which allowed them to prosper, to find their talents and to pursue their aptitudes. What finer date to celebrate this than the birthdate of a nation which gave them that opportunity.”

The $500,000 has been gifted to museum and will be attributed to the endowment of the museum, which according to Director of Development Raelene Pullen, “is the lifeblood of our institution and ensures that the Figge will be here in perpetuity for children and adults in our community to experience. The Katz name and impact on the Quad Cities will always be remembered thanks to their generous contribution.”

“The Katz Gallery is located at the heart of the museum, adjacent to our art studios and the Mary Waterman Gildehaus Community Gallery,” said Figge Executive Director Tim Schiffer. “It hosts some of our most popular and important exhibitions. We are so grateful to the Katz family for helping us to fulfill our mission of ‘bringing art and people together.’”

Grandson Matt Katz added, “It is such an honor for our family to be involved with the Figge. I think it would be an accurate reflection of my grandparents to say that a city without a foundation of arts and culture is merely just a "place". A spot on a map. The arts add a dimension of depth and social integrity to any community. My grandparents were two very different people from extremely different backgrounds.

They had two very different personas, but the one common thread that brought them together was celebrating culture. It is so exciting to know that even though they are not physically involved in the community anymore, that through the Figge they can be involved in spirit.”

Isador and Ruth Evelyn were advocates for the arts dating back to the mid-50s when Ruth Evelyn joined the Rock Island Art Guild. Her Maka Gallery became the first serious art presence in downtown Rock island in 1966 bringing fine arts to the Quad Cities through gifts like the many public sculptures that now are an important part of the Quad Cities’ urban landscape. Ruth Evelyn was devoted to numerous cultural and civic organizations and served as a member of the Acquisitions Commission of the Figge Art Museum and the Davenport Museum of Art, its predecessor.

Isador was a prominent attorney who received an individual award in philanthropy and served on the boards of the Rock Island Public Library Foundation, Rock Island Community Foundation and Trinity Health Foundation.

The two worked very hard to help make the Quad-Cities a more beautiful place through their philanthropic efforts and devotion to bettering the community. Grandson Steven Katz explained, “They believed strongly in the notion of philanthropy and in "giving back" to the community. With the establishment of this gallery it's nice to see them honored for their many contributions to the community. I hope that this gallery will be able to enrich the lives of people in the Quad Cities for many years to come and perhaps even serve as a source of inspiration for future dreamers and artists and offer people new insights and ways of looking at our world. If it does, then I think my grandparents would be very pleased.”

As happy as the family is about this dedication, there is also an element of the bittersweet because this gift is also to celebrate the memory of Judith Katz. Judith was the daughter of Ruth and Isador who passed away on July 3, 1997. Brother Marty Katz said, “My sister was a physically beautiful person but it was surpassed by her intellect and artistic skills. To see her name along with my parents exactly 17 years after her death is going to be very special to our entire family.”

The first exhibition that will be on display in The Katz Gallery will be Two Americans in Paris: Stuart Davis and Grant Wood opening July 12, 2014.


About the Figge Art Museum

The Figge Art Museum is located on the riverfront in downtown Davenport at 225 West Second Street. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday and Sundays 12-5 p.m. Thursdays the museum is open until 9 p.m. Admission to the museum and tour is $7. Admission is free to Figge members and institutional members and free to all on Thursday evenings from 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. The museum is free for Active Duty Military members and their families all year round and free to seniors the first Thursday of every month. To contact the museum, please call 563.326.7804, or visit


Loebsack Welcomes 2014 Congressional Art Contest Winner to Washington PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Art, Galleries & Museums
Written by Vonnie Hampel   
Wednesday, 25 June 2014 13:20

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack today welcomed Brianna Paup, the winner of the 2014 Congressional Art Contest to Washington. Brianna’s drawing, Old Man, was selected in an online competition in which nearly 2,500 votes were cast to determine who would represent Iowa’s Second District in the annual competition. Brianna, who is from Mechanicsville and just completed her Junior year at North Cedar High School, traveled with her mother to Washington to see her art work displayed and attend a reception held in her honor.

“Each year I am more and more impressed by the creativity, ingenuity, and talent of our local high school students and Brianna is no exception. It was a pleasure to welcome Brianna and her mom to Washington. I am glad they had the opportunity to visit our nation’s capital and see her art work displayed.”

Gov. Branstad and Lt. Governor Reynolds announce new blockbuster museum exhibition opening June 27 PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Art, Galleries & Museums
Written by Jeff Morgan   
Monday, 16 June 2014 15:43

“Hollywood in the Heartland” explores history of Iowa and Iowans in the movies

Tom Arnold appearance, film series and related programming


(DES MOINES) – Gov. Terry E. Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds were joined at their regular weekly press conference today by Department of Cultural Affairs Director Mary Cownie to announce a blockbuster exhibition, “Hollywood in the Heartland,” will open this month at the State Historical Museum of Iowa. The State Historical Museum is a bureau of the State Historical Society of Iowa, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs. 


“I’m pleased to announce another great exhibit – “Hollywood in the Heartland” – launching at the State Historical Museum,” said Branstad. “Hollywood in the Heartland explores our legacy with the silver screen from the late 1800s to today’s movies and filmmaking and I invite all Iowans to visit the State Historical Museum to see this blockbuster exhibit.”


“I’m excited for this exhibit to open because it offers an opportunity for movie buffs, historians and family members of all ages to learn about Iowa’s connections to the movie industry,” said Reynolds. “This exhibit not only showcases our past, it also points us to the future where new movie and media production technologies are generating more opportunities for creativity, growth and expansion. The Governor and I invite audiences of all ages to come see it beginning on June 27th.”


“Hollywood in the Heartland” is a 6,400 square-foot exhibition that shows how Iowa and Iowans have been portrayed on film, uncovers the beauty of Iowa’s historic theaters and their role in Iowa communities, and the people who have made an impression on-screen and behind the scenes. The exhibition will include distinct areas tracing Iowa’s stage and screen heritage from opera houses and Vaudeville performances to Iowa filmmaking today.


“When it comes to the movies, the best ones capture our common bonds as people,” said Cownie. “This new exhibit reflects the contributions Iowa and Iowans have made in bringing magic to the movies in Hollywood.”


During the press conference, Branstad and Reynolds offered a glimpse at what the exhibit will include, including the Academy Award won by Iowa native Cloris Leachman for Best Supporting Actress in “The Last Picture Show” (1971).


Other artifacts to be on display include:


  • During opening weekend, Donna Reed’s Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in “From Here to Eternity” (1953)
  • A 1933 copy of Phil Stong’s “State Fair” and a ticket from the 1945 World Premiere of “State Fair” in Des Moines.
  • A uniform from “The Music Man” in 1962
  • Props from “Cold Turkey” in 1971
  • A replica 1919 Chicago White Sox uniform from the “Field of Dreams” in 1989
  • And we have a bicycle used by Meryl Streep in “The Bridges of Madison County” in 1995


Personalities included in the exhibit will be novelist Oscar Micheaux, the Blank and Fridley families, and actors from across the state. Featured actors and actresses will include Leachman, Reed, John Wayne and Ashton Kutcher, among many others.


The exhibit will also look at the role of historic theatres in Iowa communities including Fort Madison, Charles City, Missouri Valley, Dubuque, Sioux City, Des Moines and other towns and cities.


“Hollywood in the Heartland” is supported by the State Historical Museum’s exhibit partners Iowa Historical Foundation, Iowa Public Television and Produce Iowa – the State Office of Media Production and exhibit sponsors Bravo Greater Des Moines, Humanities Iowa and the Fred Maytag Family Foundation.


The schedule of opening weekend programs follows:


Friday, June 27

“Hollywood Backstories with Tom Arnold” presented by Produce Iowa

10 a.m.  – FREE

Join Iowan Tom Arnold at the State Historical Museum as he kicks off opening day of the new exhibition, Hollywood in the Heartland. Tom will talk about his rise from Ottumwa to Hollywood and everything in between. And as a writer, producer, actor and comedian, he has a lot of stories to tell. Tom has been in over 120 film and television projects including True Lies, Nine Months, and Mike Myers’ documentary released this month, Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon. In addition to hosting CMT's top-rated My Big Redneck franchise, Tom has also been on a comedy stand-up tour throughout the US over the past year, and we are excited to welcome him back to Des Moines.


Exhibit Tour with Museum Staff

1 and 3 p.m. – FREE

Experience “Hollywood in the Heartland” with a free guided tour from State Historical Museum staff.


Music Man Matinee – FREE

1 p.m. – Doors open

1:15 p.m. – Discussion

1:30 p.m. – Movie

Attend a short preview discussion and a screening of “The Music Man” (2 hrs, 55 min). Question and Answer session to follow movie.


Saturday, June 28

Exhibit Tour with Museum Staff

10 a.m. and 1 p.m. – FREE

Experience “Hollywood in the Heartland” with a free guided tour from State Historical Museum staff.


Iowa’s Opera Houses and Movie Theatres

11 a.m. – FREE

Iowa has the full range of historic entertainment venues from opera houses located in small towns across the state to the grand movie palaces in our largest cities. This presentation from Historian Ralph Christian and Architectural Historian Paula Mohr of the State Historic Preservation Office will tell the fascinating story of how and where Iowans enjoyed various forms of entertainment from early settlement to the multiplexes of today.


Children’s Activities

11 a.m.-2 p.m. – FREE

Make flipbooks, storyboards, and movie posters and decorating stars.


Adam Van Wyk

2 p.m. – FREE

Adam Van Wyk will talk about animated films. Van Wyk worked on “Despicable Me,” “Despicable Me 2” and “Ice Age,” among others, and is a Des Moines-based voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.


Iowa Stars Trivia Game

3:30 p.m. – FREE

Find the Iowa stars in the new exhibit and answer questions.


Sunday, June 29

Exhibit Tour with Museum Staff

1 p.m. – FREE

Experience “Hollywood in the Heartland” with a free guided tour from State Historical Museum staff.


19th Century Projected Entertainment (Humanities Iowa)

2:30-4 p.m. – FREE

Join Michael Zahs as he shows some of the world’s oldest films known to exist. The films were originally shown by Frank and Indiana Brinton in small town opera houses or at Chautauqua gatherings. Some of their magic lantern slides and early movie presentations will be part of Zahs discussion. See story from USA Today.


All events are at the State Historical Museum, 600 E. Locust Street in Des Moines. Visit or call 515-281-5111 for more information.



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