Putnam Museum to update regional history exhibit with new $245,000 grant

Local News

The Putrnam Museum and Science Center is at 1717 W. 12th St., Davenport.

The Putnam Museum and Science Center has received a $245,000 grant from the national Institute of Museum and Library Services for an ongoing community collaboration exploring regional history.

Rachael Mullins, president and CEO of the Putnam (1717 W. 12th St., Davenport), will introduce stakeholders and representatives from partner organizations that span across the Quad Cities in a short program Tuesday morning celebrating the achievement.

The grant — the only such one in the state of Iowa — provides $245,000 for community-based regional history projects, including a significant update to the Putnam’s regional history exhibit, “River, Prairie and People.” Over multiple years and phases, the Putnam Museum and Science Center will partner across the community to assure that the exhibit reflects the modern era, shared experience as Quad Citizens, and the rich cultural diversity of the community.

The update will bring the exhibit to the current day, including the extraordinary accomplishments and
challenges of our times, according to a Putnam release. Additions are also planned to reflect stories that are missing from the exhibit, including those that reflect the diversity of our region.

A primary project partner is Science Museum of Minnesota — creators of the exhibit “Race: Are We So Different?”— who as one facet of the exhibit will work with the community to distill the themes of the “Race” exhibit through the lens of local history so that participants can learn about, build pride in, and embrace the collective identity of our diverse community.

Project partners in this work include Azubuike African American Council for the Arts, Friends of Martin Luther King, LULAC Council 10, the Iowa Women’s Archive of the University of Iowa Libraries, and World Relief Quad Cities.

The collaborative is reaching out across the community to gather stories, including an exhibit preview for feedback and upcoming sessions at local public libraries to collect oral histories and to assure the exhibit is rich and relevant through community input and co-curation.

Community partners will work with Putnam curator of history and anthropology Christina Kastell and her team to co-create a Regional History Update, to ensure greater representation and inclusion of the diverse Quad Cities community and our modern-day experience. The exhibit will culminate in a reflection area to engage visitors in dialogue and guided activities.

The project also includes an aligned school curriculum and programming to facilitate broad access and expand impact across the Quad Cities area through deep community collaboration.

“As a major family destination and through rich relationships among area school districts, the Putnam will welcome nearly every child across our region through this exhibit at some point in their childhood,” Mullins said. “That is a blessing and a responsibility for the Putnam. We must assure each child and every citizen sees themselves in the history, current fabric, and the future of the Quad Cities community.”

The new grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services was made possible through the preliminary support of local funders, including the Regional Development Authority, United Way of the Quad Cities, Exelon Corporation and the Jim Estes estate.

“As pillars of our communities, libraries and museums bring people together by providing important programs, services, and collections. These institutions are trusted spaces where people can learn, explore and grow,” IMLS director Crosby Kemper said in the Putnam release. “IMLS is proud to support their initiatives through our grants as they educate and enhance their communities.”

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. For more information, visit www.imls.gov.

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