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Preservation Destination Cedar Rapids 2016

Article Written by Kris Colby, the 2016 Preservation Destination Fellowship recipient.

On September 19, 2016 I attended the Iowa Conservation and Preservation Consortium’s annual Preservation Destination after having recently joined the Board of Directors. I was the winner of the $100 fellowship for traveling over 100 miles to attend.  My position as County Recorder of Winnebago County here in Iowa gave me an interest in this wonderful group and their mission:” to initiate, encourage, and enhance preservation and conservation activities in and among all Iowa repositories and institutions whose collections include a variety of materials such as audio-visuals, microforms, paper-based, and electronically-stored information for the benefit of present and future generations.”

The Preservation Destination was so interesting!  Our first stop was the Paramount Theater which was beautiful.  We learned about all the refurbishing that took place after the flood of 2008 and the steps taken for preparedness next time around.   The 2nd stop was the African American Museum of Iowa.  We visited the back room to see how things are preserved and worked on to provide the best setting for display or preservation.  Both the Paramount and the African American Museum have made provisions for future flooding by raising things to higher storage spaces and have moveable racks for clothing items.  The chairs in the Paramount are removable as well. Ironically a week after our tour the museums were featured in the Des Moines Register since downtown Cedar Rapids was experiencing flood waters again. After a relaxing lunch downtown we visited the Iowa Masonic Library which holds many books in its 3 story library, some of which are the only available copies in the United States.  The curved conference room was a highlight as well, with its beautiful stained glass windows.   Our final stop was the Brucemore mansion.  It was interesting to step back in time to the era of the 1920’s and 30’s and imagine what life must have been like among the beautiful woodwork and charm of the estate.  Brucemore is working to preserve it back to the way it was during the Douglas era; around the 1920’s to 30’s. We had wonderful people explaining each site and giving the history or how everything was being preserved.  If you get the chance to attend one of these events, I would highly recommend it!