Hawkeye Marching Band celebrates 141 years with BAND 141 exhibit

BAND 141 is an exhibit that encapsulates the Hawkeye Marching Band’s history and traditions through their 141 years on campus. It is available to visit in the Voxman Music Building during its open hours.


Dimia Burrell

An exhibit in Voxman Music Building is put in place to celebrate over 140 years of University of Iowa Marching Band on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. The exhibit contains materials that are historic to the Iowa Marching Band and can be seen on the first and second floor of the building.

Anaka Sanders, Arts Reporter

The Hawkeye Marching Band is steeped in tradition, and the band’s director Eric Bush said traditions started over a century ago are still carried on by students now. From learning cadences at camp week, to arriving on the Kinnick field six hours before kickoff, tradition is something the new generation of Hawkeye band members take seriously.

These traditions are depicted in the BAND 141 exhibit held in the Voxman Music Building. The exhibit begins on the first floor outside the Rita Benton Music Library, where viewers can see the band’s history along with song lists, formations, and past uniforms. The other portion of the exhibit is on the second floor of Voxman, on the Recital Hall’s west wall, where the history of the bands drum majors, Golden Girls, alumni band, and the former Scottish Highlanders — the UI’s bagpipe band, and once the largest bagpipe band in the world — is displayed.

Bush, who also serves as the associate director of bands at the University of Iowa, said the marching band’s pregame traditions are his students’ favorites.

“Pregame is a huge tradition that goes back all the way into the 1920s,” Bush said. “For example, the ‘I-O-W-A’ form that we make you can trace back to then. Another pregame tradition for us is singing the alma mater in the tunnel before we go out.”

A new tradition Bush mentioned, which the Kinnick Stadium announcer refers to as “the greatest tradition in college sports,” is “The Wave,” when 70,000 fans wave to patients in the Stead Family Children’s Hospital at the end of the first quarter at Kinnick Stadium.

Hawkeye Marching Band Drum Major Amanda Thomas said she had no idea the exhibit was being created until she walked into Voxman for class one day and noticed the wall displays on the second floor. She saw one of the displays had her name on it.

“My first impression was, ‘This is awesome,’” Thomas said, “I think it’s really important for current members of the band to acknowledge that history, as well as for alumni band members to come back and see that their history is being acknowledged.”

COVID-19 stalled the band’s performances last year, giving time for Bush, in collaboration with Katie Buehner, Director of the Rita Benton Music Library, to work on archiving the band’s history.

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The exhibit goes through all 141 years of the Hawkeye Marching Band, and the 13 directors it’s had since 1881. It displays how the band functioned as a cadet band in the military science department, then highlights each decade through the 70s, 80s, 90s, and up to last year when there was no performance element in Kinnick Stadium.

Thomas said one thing she wishes to see included in the future of the exhibit would be the full uniforms throughout the years, because the band changes their uniforms about every eight years.

Buehner said she hopes future members of the band will be able to see the exhibit. She has noticed more students stopping to see BAND 141 than any other exhibit they have put up before.

“I think that it’s a really great chance for them to see and experience [the Hawkeye Marching Band] a little bit more, just in a different way,” Buehner said.

When the exhibit is taken down at the end of the semester, all the archived materials that have been collected will be digitized, Bush said. The band director said he hopes that one day viewers will be able to search online for a picture or recording that belongs to the Hawkeye Marching Band and see it in real time.

“We’ve probably gotten more phone calls and more emails from alumni over the past month or so, wanting to know about the exhibit and how it was put together, than we have gotten in a long time,” Bush said.

The exhibit will be available to view during Voxman Music Building’s open hours during the fall 2021 semester.