Current Feature ExhiBit:

Uncorked: The Spirited History of Alcohol in Ames

A hundred years ago, on January 17, 1920, the National Prohibition Act went into effect, making the United States a dry country for the next thirteen years. However, the story of alcohol and its impact on the Ames community is much larger than just the story of prohibition – although there are a lot of good bootlegging tales too! From the founding of Ames as a dry town, to modern-era microbreweries and VEISHEA disturbances, there are unique alcohol-related stories throughout the history of the community. The stories told in this exhibit show the complex relationship Ames has had with alcohol through the years.

This exhibit is supported by the Ames Convention & Visitors Bureau Community Grant Program.

Current Smaller Exhibits:

Miss Ames 1938

View the dress and trophy from the 1938 Miss Ames pageant put on by the Ames Junior Chamber of Commerce.

Artifacts from the Attic: Alexander Plow Company

This exhibit features Alexander Manufacturing Company, which produced garden raisers, seed drills, plows, and other garden tools in Ames, 1913-1933.

Ames Bottlers

This exhibit provides information about two bottling companies in Ames and features several bottles from our collection.


Flappers of the 1920s embodied a revolutionary new idea of womanhood and were well-known for their iconic style of dress. This exhibit displays a beaded flapper dress from our collection.

Permanent exhibits include a timeline of Ames history, aerial views, and our player piano.

Past Exhibits:

Exploring Historic Ames: Unique Selections from the Farwell T. Brown Photographic Archive

This exhibit featured photos collected by Farwell Brown, Ames historian and founder of the historical society. The photos on display were chosen from the collection based on their ability to place visitors in the past. Featured photos included early interiors of Ames businesses, stereoscope images taken by Martin Morrison, and a life-sized replica of the H-tree, which served as a photo op for visitors. The exhibit was presented in partnership with the Ames Public Library, which hosts the full photo collection on its website.

Hometown Teams: How Sports Shaped Ames

The exhibit told the local story of sports in Ames - from town teams to Iowa State to Ames High - in conjunction with a Smithsonian traveling exhibit about hometown sports on display at the Octagon Center for the Arts across the street.

Cathedrals of the Plains: A Photo Series of Midwest Grain Elevators

This exhibit featured photography by Judith Eastburn along with the Ames elevator story. Judith Eastburn holds an MFA in Photography from The University of Iowa. She has taught photography courses at levels ranging from children to university students for the past twenty years. Her work has appeared in twenty four juried shows, and she has presented eight one-person shows. The Froning & Deppe grain elevator and its predecessors were a feature of the downtown Ames skyline for a hundred years, from the late 1870s until 1979.

Ames Hi Aiming High Through the Years

This exhibit featured the four Ames High School locations and included stories about academics, athletics, clubs & activities, social life & events, and performing arts during the era students attended each school building. The exhibit also included a wall with names of all Ames High graduates. NEW! Traveling exhibit available for class reunions and other events. Click here for more information.

In Trunks, Hands, and Hearts: What Immigrants Bring to Iowa

Through six traveling banners created by the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah, Iowa, this exhibit told stories of immigrants to Iowa from a variety of places and times. The stories showed the commonality of experience, while also sharing the many unique examples. The exhibit focused on telling stories through the things that were brought (objects, skills, traditions, customs, etc.). Several supplementary panels were created to tell Ames immigrant stories. More information here.

World War II: Ames Doing Its Part

This exhibit commemorated the 75th anniversary of the start of World War II. The exhibit featured stories about day-to-day life in Ames for those at home who supported the war effort in countless ways. It included engaging photos, information, and artifacts that told the story of Ames' involvement in the war.

A Time of Expansion: The Ames Building Boom of 1915-1916

The years 1915 and 1916 brought great expansion to the city of Ames. In that short time Ames saw the building of the Sheldon-Munn Hotel, a new City Hall, the Masonic Building, and Mary Greeley Hospital. This exhibit focused on the history of each of these iconic buildings and how they impacted the community at the time. The exhibit included photos from the buildings' pasts, historical objects representing each building, and fun interactive activities for the whole family. Exhibit sponsored by Mary Greeley Medical Center.