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  • Ondrea Li

Protecting Cultural Heritage through Innovation: A Project for Iraq Program Recap

From July 2nd to July 6th, we hosted, “Protecting Cultural Heritage through Innovation: A Project for Iraq,” in eastern Iowa. The program welcomed 11 leaders from Iraq and provided them with the opportunity to learn about cultural heritage protection and heritage tourism by meeting with various professional resources that explored technological trends and innovation, the use of virtual exhibitions, and innovative models for community engagement and outreach.


Due to flight cancelations, the delegation arrived in eastern Iowa on the evening of July 2nd and checked into their hotel.

The following morning, the delegation started their day off with a 2-hour and 15-minute drive to Effigy Mounds National Monument Park. At Effigy Mounds National Monument Park, the delegation met with Global Ties Iowa volunteer Amanda Potterfield and a Park Ranger to learn about cultural preservation and heritage tourism. They then had the opportunity to go on a 2-mile hike to see numerous effigy mounds that are shaped like animals, including bears and birds!


After the hike, the delegation journeyed to Decorah, Iowa, for lunch and a meeting with Vesterheim National Norwegian-American Museum and Folk Art School. They met with Vesterheim CEO Chris Johnson for a discussion on how Vesterheim encourages community engagement and heritage tourism through its programming. Following their meeting, the delegation returned to their hotel and had the rest of their night to rest.


On the evening of July 4th, the delegation enjoyed a Minor League Baseball game from the Cedar Rapids Kernels and the High A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins and ended the night with a fireworks show at the stadium.


The next morning, the delegation convened early and enjoyed breakfast and coffee with Executive Director Amy Alice Chastain before departing for the Cedar Rapids Public Library for a meeting with the African American Museum of Iowa. There, they were accompanied by Global Ties Iowa volunteers Ken and Gayle Royar. They met with Museum Educator Sydney O’Hare and Curator & Collections Manager Felicite Wolfe and discussed curating and preserving African American heritage of Iowa.


Following this, the delegation had a meeting with the National Czech & Slovak Museum. They

met with Lifelong Learning Specialist Jacob Lesan, Vice President & Chief Operating Officer Dalibor Mikulas, and Library Director David Muhlena. The delegation had the opportunity to discuss how the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library preserve the stories of Czech and Slovak history and culture through innovative experiences to reach cross-cultural audiences locally, nationally, and internationally.


In the afternoon, the delegation traveled back to downtown Iowa City where they had lunch and then walked to the Stanley Art Museum for their next meeting with the University of Iowa Museum Studies and Classics Department. Accompanied by Global Ties Iowa program intern Anna Peach, they were welcomed by Academic Outreach Coordinator Kathryn Reuter. Then, they attended a presentation given by Communications Coordinator Jessica Smith and Director Liz Crooks on virtual exhibitions and programming at the Pentacrest Museums. After that, they met with Exhibition and Engagement Coordinator Sara Jacobmeyer Pinkham and Visiting Associate Professor Nicholas Hartmann where the delegation learned how the University of Iowa (UI) Museum Studies and Classics Department uses exhibits in the classroom for museum studies at UI. Following that, Curator of African Art Cory Gundlach also presented on the Mellon-fund grant on provenance research on African art and a case study with objects from the Kingdom of Benin.

On Thursday morning, the delegates departed eastern Iowa for Chicago, Illinois.


Our gratitude extends to Effigy Mounds National Monument Park, Vesterheim National Norwegian-American Museum and Folk Art School, the African American Museum of Iowa, the National Czech & Slovak Museum, and the University of Iowa Museum Studies and Classics Department for making this delegation’s time in eastern Iowa special! Additionally, we would also like to thank our volunteers Amanda Potterfield, Ken and Gayle Royar, and Anna Peach for taking the time to accompany the delegation. Your efforts are greatly appreciated!

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