Take a passport to discover real German immigrant experiences in Davenport

Local News

The German American Heritage Center and Museum, Davenport, has new interactive kiosks that tell the stories of real immigrants to Davenport.

The German American Heritage Center and Museum, Davenport, is proud to announce the installation of brand new interactive, storytelling kiosks in its permanent exhibit, The German Immigrant Experience.

The Immigrant Passport Experience allows visitors to interact with the story of a real immigrant who picked up their entire life and immigrated to Davenport, in a variety of time periods. Each story speaks to a different experience, time period, age, and other circumstances of that person, according to a GAHC release.

Visitors can experience their story first in The Old World — learning what their life was like back in Germany and what was the impetus for their immigration. Then visitors observe The Journey — where the immigrant shares the story of the travails of their crossing the ocean to this new land. Finally, visitors watch as their storyteller is Planting Roots here in Davenport and how they experienced our area generations ago.

One of the new kiosks at German American Heritage Center, 712 W. 2nd St., Davenport.

“By providing the stories of actual German immigrants to Scott County, even 100 years later, we can begin to unravel the stories of our own history and how this community came to exist,” GAHC executive director Kelly Lao said in the release. “We often get caught up in our everyday that looking forward feels daunting, and looking back, impossible.

“Access to these stories of triumph and overcoming adversity and challenges can help us feel more rooted in our community and present in our lives,” she said. “These stories transcend time and country to share real experiences of leaving one’s home and creating a new life in a new community.”

GAHC executive director Kelly Lao.

Presenting this perspective to guests would not have been possible without the support of the Iowa Arts Council, Regional Development Authority, and Hubbell-Waterman Foundation. The German American Heritage Center and Museum (2nd and Gaines streets, Davenport) worked closely with Edwards Creative in Milan as they developed the concept, researched content, and brought this project to fruition.

The three kiosks use RFID technology to allow visitors to take a “passport” for their storyteller throughout the exhibition, learning of their life and experiences along the way. Volunteer researchers and genealogists were essential in finding the stories or sharing the stories of their own ancestors to create a full, rich picture of the lives of these immigrants to our area.

The new passport experience was funded by the Iowa Arts Council, Regional Development Authority, and Hubbell-Waterman Foundation.

The ribbon cutting for the new interactive passport kiosks will be Thursday, Dec. 9th at 2 p.m. at GAHC. After the ribbon cutting, guests will be invited to tour the exhibition and enjoy refreshments in the 4th-floor event space. Masks continue to be required in the museum.

The mission of the German American Heritage Museum is to “preserve and enrich for present and future generations knowledge of the German immigrant experience and its impact on American culture.” GAHC’s focus is cultural programs and immigrant contributions. GAHC seeks to reach out to other cultural groups and demonstrate the contributions immigrants from many countries and from varied backgrounds have made to the ethnic palette which is the United States.

The Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. More information can be found at www.gahc.org.

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