Sioux City history in a whole new way! The new Sioux City
Public Museum features large, colorful exhibits, interactive
displays, and much more. It’s a must-see destination for
residents and tourists alike.
The modern glass façade, orange terra cotta, and vertical
marquee create a distinctive entrance into the Sioux City
Public Museum on the southwest corner of the building at 4th
and Nebraska Streets. Visitors first entering the large,
two-story atrium will immediately be awed by the spectacular
35-ft. tall mural of the 1887 Sioux City Corn Palace. Not
only does the corn palace replica remind visitors of the
grandeur of these ornate buildings that once stood downtown,
it also serves as the orientation theater.
While waiting to see one of the two showings each hour of
the lively 12-minute “Spirit of Sioux City” film, visitors
are encouraged to wander through the nearby “Siouxland
Attic.” Among the overhead rafters and sheet-draped crates
are a collection of unusual keepsakes ranging from an 1880s
horse drawn sleigh to an iron lung used in the national
polio epidemic that gripped Sioux City in the 1940s and 50s.
Because no attic would be complete without a ghost or two,
curious visitors will be able to open a trunk to make the
“spirits” of two Sioux City icons materialize in a large
mirror. With flourish, the ghosts of bankrupted developer
John Peirce and murdered prohibitionist Rev. John Haddock
will recount their dramatic final days in Sioux City.
After watching the orientation video in the 48-seat theater,
visitors will enter the permanent exhibit gallery by the
interactive map of the Siouxland region. After learning more
about the place that is now Sioux City, it is time to learn
about the first people who inhabited the area. The Museum’s
impressive collection of Native American artifacts is
complimented by items on loan for the Office of the State
Archeologist at the University of Iowa. Many of the
artifacts from the Mill Creek culture dating to 1100 A.D.
were unearthed at the Kimball site in southern Plymouth
County, northwest of Stone State Park.
Early housing is represented by a Native American lodge house and tipi as well as the pioneer log cabin. Children are
encouraged to role play in each dwelling, design a quilt using magnets and lift hatches to discover more about Sioux
City history. More hands-on experiences await in a trolley car replica with an interactive screen that allows visitors to
select images from five different topics.
Interactive transportation displays are also featured
alongside many of the vehicles throughout the permanent
gallery. Sioux City’s first “horseless buggy,” a 1901
Oldsmobile, is joined by a 1919 Hawkeye Truck and 1957
Diamond T dump truck. The dump truck is just one of the
meticulously restored vehicles donated by the Irving F.
Jensen family; the full-size paver was also used by the
family’s construction business. The Jensens also donated a
1918 Mack fire truck which is similar to ones used by the
Sioux City Fire Department. The fire truck is located in the
shadow of two-story Disaster and Recovery Wall. Several
times each hour the multi-media screens will feature three
major catastrophes that hit Sioux City: the Pelletier
Department Store fire on December 23, 1904, the 1953 Floyd
River Flood, and the July 19, 1989 crash of United Airlines
Flight 232. Not only does the video commemorate these
tragedies, it shows the cooperative community spirit that
dealt with the aftermath.
The impact of agriculture on the growth and development of
Sioux City is reflected in the Sioux City Stockyards and
related businesses. A timeline traces the history of the
packing industry in Sioux City from the 1850s through the
closing of the John Morrell plant in 2010. Along with
photographs and narratives, agriculture is showcased in a
fun way with a mini-barn hands-on display and life-size
livestock scattered throughout the exhibit.
Of course, that’s not all that is featured in the 12,000 ft.
permanent gallery. You won’t want to miss the
state-of-the-art computer generated interactive timeline
highlighting the corporate history of Gateway and IBP. There
truly is something for curious visitors of all generations.