When it first opened it doors in 1970, the Science Center of Iowa was among the first interactive science museums in the world. It engaged the community with hands-on exhibits and programs. In 2005, the center moved to its 110,00-square-foot downtown location, where it fills its halls with a variety of experience platforms, each demonstrating different scientific principles. The When Things Get Moving exhibit invites visitors to build rockets and conquer a domino obstacle course, and Why the Sky? demonstrates the science of space with a digital planet-exploration globe and the Cosmic Jukebox, which allows you to create your own show. Interact with exhibits that demonstrate the basic principles of physics in the themed scenario, the Eureka! Lab. The renovated Small Discoveries exhibit features Dahl's Produce Market and Edna's Kitchen, a favorite of younger visitors.
Blank Park Zoo educates the public about the wonders of the wild by re-creating far-flung habitats and ecosystems that house more than 1,000 animals and 104 different species ranging from Siberian tigers to hissing cockroaches. Zookeepers lead chats about animals and offer conservation tips, while exhibits include hands-on feedings that allow humans to go face-to-face or nose-to-beak with hungry giraffes and parakeets. Recent new arrivals welcome curious kids to commiserate with the growing pains and early bedtimes of young wallabies, camels, and seal pups, setting a foundation for learning that may be continued in classes designed for those aged 6 months to 5 years.
In addition to raising awareness about the environment, Blank Park Zoo contributes to conservation efforts to preserve the future of native animals and their natural homes. The zoo participates in seven endangered-species breeding programs and donates a portion of admissions proceeds to several different wildlife initiatives.
Built in the 1920s by Carl and Edith Weeks as a replica of the King's house in Salisbury, England, Salisbury House and Gardens drapes 22,500 square feet and 42 rooms of architectural reverence across the Iowa countryside. The historical landmark and public museum hosts cultural events year-round. During the gingerbread house making workshop, an expert Hy-Vee baker will teach you how to construct sweet, edible miniature abodes that dazzle as holiday dinner centerpieces and provide adequate shelter for smurfs. At the holiday decorating ideas event, a Pottery Barn decorator will impart DIY wisdom for inventive and bewitching seasonal garnishing. Both events are accompanied with generous samplings of wine, cheese, and amiable conversation.
More than a century ago, 216 S. Second St. in Winterset, Iowa, was the childhood address of John Wayne. Today, the four-room home houses the John Wayne Birthplace, a museum that celebrates the legendary actor's career and has attracted more than one million visitors to date. On display are rare photographs of Wayne, letters to him from fellow actors, and memorabilia from his films, including an eye patch he wore in True Grit .
The artist-run Works of Glass studio burnishes custom stained-glass pieces and extends materials and advice to hobbyists of the semitranslucent arts. Each Make 'n' Take stained-glass class provides all of the materials and guidance for six students at a time to create a three-piece heart-shaped sun catcher using the same copper foiling method used in Tiffany glass production. After a practice cutting session with old windowpanes and the walls of glass houses, students select their favorite shade from the studio's spectrum of glass and cut it themselves to form the base of the heart. Like soldering a rainbow and heart together to create the ultimate T-shirt logo, students solder two clear half-circle bevels to the sun catcher, which will make it cast rainbow shadows on sulking rooms. Students will get to do their own foiling and soldering—the processes used to bring pieces together—and will finish off the piece with a metal filigree. Finished works measure 5 inches at the widest point and are 4.5 inches long, with every square unit of surface area declaring undying love to a favorite window. Just like remedial woodshop, classes take place on the weekends.