PRESS RELEASE from The State Historical Society of Iowa
December 21, 2006

New major museum project announced for 2007
Museum to be information headquarters, media center and issues forum for Iowa Caucuses

DES MOINES - The State Historical Museum today announced it is developing a new major project that will transform 9,000 square-feet of display space into an information headquarters, media center and issues forum for the Iowa Caucuses.

"Caucus Iowa," scheduled to open in Fall 2007, will offer a first-hand look at Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses - how they work, why they work, how they affect candidates and their campaigns, and how they differ from every other step to the White House.  The project will also serve as a caucus training headquarters for world-wide media and provide an issues forum where campaign organizations, presidential candidates and the public can host events, deliver speeches and hold other activities.

"Iowa's traditional first-in-the-nation caucuses focus the eyes of the nation and world on the state every four years," said Anita Walker, director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.  "Intensive media scrutiny showcases all aspects of Iowa life, promoting the state, its people and resources in a manner that is unrivaled by any other single event.

"This project will define and explain the caucus method from a historical sense and create specific environments to experience this unique political process firsthand. It will be a rare opportunity to demystify citizen-democracy at work and celebrate it as a viable and necessary step in our presidential process."

With its emphasis on technology and electronics, the project will tell the story of the Iowa caucuses - their rise to national significance in the 1970s, coffee shop campaigning, living room politics and the impact severe winter weather, special interest groups and the media have on them.  The project will also track the whereabouts of 2008 presidential candidates as they campaign throughout the state.

"Iowans play a unique role in the nation's presidential election process," Walker said.  "The Iowa Caucuses set the stage for the rest of the nation by winnowing the field of candidates for the White House.  Historically, the caucuses offer only three tickets out of Iowa, meaning candidates have to finish in the top three to have any realistic chance of continuing their campaigns.  We believe this project will help to secure Iowa's first-in-the-nation status, promote Iowa to national and international audiences and, most importantly, showcase citizen-democracy to increase participation in the caucus process."

Museum staff is working with a Caucus Advisory Board co-chaired by Gordon Fischer and Steve Roberts, both of Des Moines.  The advisory board also includes:

Eric Branstad, Republican Party of Iowa
Dennis Goldford, Drake University professor
J Fink, Oskaloosa teacher
James Flansburg, former political writer for The Des Moines Register
Jason Follett, SHSI Board Member
Millie Frese, Marshalltown teacher
Teri Goodmann, Dubuque democrat
Wayne Haskovec, Hudson teacher
Gary Overla, Perry teacher
Matthew Schaefer, Hoover Museum, West Branch
Steffan Schmidt, Iowa State University professor
Peverill Squire, University of Iowa professor
Tim Walch, SHSI Board Member
Hugh Winebrenner, author of book on Iowa Caucuses

The State Historical Society of Iowa is a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and is a trustee of Iowa's historical legacy and an advocate for understanding Iowa's past.  It identifies, records, collects, preserves, manages and provides access to Iowa's historical resources.  Its dual mission of preservation and education serves Iowans of all ages, conducts and stimulates research, disseminates information, and encourages and supports historical preservation and education efforts of others throughout the state.  Visit or call 515-281-5111 for more information.