Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Old Cap in June

There are a lot of things to do this summer at Old Capitol Museum, and here are a few highlights of some upcoming events and exhibits:

~Have you ever wanted to try your hand at the dancing that Jane Austen wrote about in her novels? You'll have a chance this Saturday, June 20 at 7 pm in the Senate Chamber here at Old Capitol. Members of the English Country Dancers of Iowa City will teach visitors the steps to several English country dances. There is no dress requirement and you can come with or without a partner as everyone will be partnered up for the dances. Click here to read the full University of Iowa press release.

~The evening of dancing complements the current exhibit in the Hanson Humanities Galleries: "'Fresh Threads of Connection': Mother Nature and British Women Writers." The exhibit features writers such as Jane Austin, Beatrix Potter, Charlotte Brontë, and Mary Shelley. The exhibit will be on display until July 26, 2009. To read the full University of Iowa press release, click here.

~A new exhibit of photos from the June 2008 Iowa floods is also on display in the Old Capitol this summer. The photos will be on display through July 31 in the Second Floor Rotunda of the building. Taken from University Relations' collection of photos, the displays highlight the rising waters of the Iowa River, preparations for the flood, cleanup, the ongoing renewal of the campus, and creative ways the University has dealt with the flood.

~Also through July, posters highlighting some of the work done by University of Iowa researchers as a result of the 2008 floods will be on display in the first floor hallways of the museum. Six research posters are currently on display, which will be rotated with 6 different posters on July 7. For more information about flood-related research, click here.

~In addition to the flood photos in the Second Floor Rotunda, there are also a collection of decorative plates featuring various University of Iowa buildings (including Old Capitol!), including a series of plates from the 1930s.

Of course, the restored period rooms on the first and second floors are open, and we have our regular hours during the summer:

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Thursday, Saturday
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Closed Mondays and national holidays

As always, the museum, and its exhibits and programs are free! The museum is designed for self-guided tours, but if you'd like to schedule a guided tour, just contact the museum at 319.335.0548.

We hope to see you at the museum this summer!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tin Lanterns--An old favorite craft revisited

Are you on the lookout for fun craft that involves modern day materials and historic ideas? If so, here’s a craft that you might like to try at home. At the turn of century, before the discovery and popularity of light bulbs, tin lanterns with punched out patterns were used widely to provide light in a decorative and useful manner. Since each one was hand-made, patterns varied widely from the very ornate to the very simple. For our annual Family Weekend at the museums, one of the crafts available was making tea light tin lanterns.
If you would like to make your own tin lantern just follow these directions for an historic experience. Small mushroom cans with flat sides work really well like the one pictured here.
1. Simply eat a can of your favorite soup.
2. Wash the empty can and fill it with water.
3. Place the can of water in the freezer overnight.
4. When completely frozen, remove the can from the freezer and wrap a hole-punch pattern around the can and tape in place.
5. Take a nail and a hammer and begin to punch out the pattern.
6. When the pattern is all punched out, let the ice melt a little more then empty and dry out the can.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Women, Nature, and Shagreen!

If you've visited Old Capitol recently you might have noticed that the Hanson Humanities Gallery is not open. The gallery is closed for good reason: behind those closed doors we're currently preparing for an exciting new exhibition! Jane Austen, Beatrix Potter, Christina Rossetti, and Mary Shelley are just a few of the women whose writings and lives will be explored in the upcoming exhibit.

"Fresh Threads of Connection: Mother Nature and British Women Writers" opens on March 7 and will run through May 24. Though the opening isn't for a few weeks, we here at Old Cap wanted to give you a little sneak peek of what to expect from the exhibition.

For the exhibit, the Humanities Gallery will be transformed into a Victorian parlor. And what Victorian parlor would be complete without a mantelpiece? This picture shows the unfinished fireplace mantel. While it gives you an idea of the design, you'll definitely want to check out the exhibit to see the finished product!

Another notable part of the room is the wall color. The color chosen and seen in this picture is called "shagreen." Not only a fun word to say, the origin of "shagreen" is pretty interesting. Shagreen is actually a type of leather that used to be made from horses, but now is usually made from shark skin. It is often dyed green, which is most likely what this paint color is named for.

You can look forward to more behind-the-scenes info about the exhibit on this blog, but you'll also want to be sure to visit the museum once the exhibit opens March 7. There is also a lot of fun programming being planned (spend an afternoon with Beatrix Potter, make your own monster, and/or see a performance of Emma!). A listing of programs relating to the exhibit can be found by clicking here.