The University of Iowa Natural History Museum is of the satisfying old-school variety. It feels like what natural history museum should. Founded in the 1850s, the collection contains many unique and exotic species and are are housed in a graceful old building. Like many older museums (turn-of-the-century), the museum has a shabby yet genteel feeling to it. There are stunning and unique dioramas, plus plenty of taxidermied animals that look a step away from road kill. But all of the displays add to the charm. The bird collection is especially magnificent, and contains an actual Dodo.
Once done with the Natural History Museum, pop next door to visit the Old Capital building, if just for the gorgeous main staircase. The rest of the building is as lovely though too, with high ceilings, carved furniture, and elegant draperies.
Both the museum and capital are free and small. They can easily be visited in under two hours.
University of Iowa Natural History Museum
11 Macbride Hall
The University of Iowa
Iowa City, IA 52242