Pentacrest Museums reopen following UI’s COVID-19 guidelines

The Museum of Natural History and the Old Capitol Museum are once again open for visitors.


Daniel McGregor-Huyer

The Iowa Hall Museum of Natural History is seen in MacBride Hall at the University of Iowa on Monday, Aug. 23, 2021.

Emily Delgado, News Reporter

After closing in March 2020 because of the pandemic, the University of Iowa’s Pentacrest Museums re-opened to the public in August, and now offer class tours and other visits for those interested in viewing artifacts from Iowa’s history. 

“We’re glad to see the museum open because the museum is a space where faculty and students and the public of course can learn about the history of Iowa in a safe space,” said Katina Lillios, UI anthropology department executive officer. 

The Pentacrest Museums opened with activities, free tours, giveaways, and showings of updated exhibits as UI students returned to campus. The museums include the UI Museum of Natural History located in MacBride Hall and the Old Capitol Museum, which have both been open for more than a century. 

“The museums are very busy spaces during the workweek,” Lillios said. “We see families, we see members of the community here.”

In the UI Museum of Natural History, the artifacts are all from the state of Iowa, Lillios said. 

“Whether they’re parcels or objects, botanical or, you know, animal sorts of remains, they’re all from the state of Iowa,” Lillios said. 

The museums will follow the UI’s COVID-19 guidance. 

Jessica Smith, communications director for the Pentacrest Museums wrote in an email to The Daily Iowan, that the museums are encouraging staff and visitors to wear a mask and get vaccinated. 

“​​Our re-opening event in August marked a symbolic welcome back to our community, highlighting new exhibits and project completions in our physical spaces since March of 2020,” Smith wrote.

Although the museums were closed, staff members made sure that virtual exhibits, galleries, and educational programs were accessible to students during the pandemic, Smith wrote. 

“We kept our promise to our campus through special appointments or virtual offerings during the closure and now, the start of the fall semester brings more in-person options for UI students and instructors,” Smith wrote. 

Currently, the museums’ visitors center is open and busy as groups are booking class tours and other visits, Smith wrote. She added that an open house is currently being planned by the museums, exclusively for UI students. 

“It’s going to be an exciting, prize-filled, engaging event with exploration and games in store,” Smith wrote.

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