Screen readers: Two navigational links to follow.Skip to site navigation.Skip to page content.
The University of Iowa News Services
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release


Aug. 15, 2011

Pentacrest Museums to host exhibit: 'Maize: Mysteries of an Ancient Grain'

The University of Iowa Pentacrest Museums — the Museum of Natural History and the Old Capitol Museum — will host the traveling exhibit "Maize: Mysteries of an Ancient Grain," opening on Aug. 26 with a free public reception from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Old Capitol Museum. The exhibit is on loan for the first time from the Museum of the Earth in Ithaca, N.Y., and will remain at the Old Capitol through Oct. 16.

"Maize" will be the first exhibit to open in the new Pentacrest Museums Gallery for Arts, Humanities and Science, located on the first floor of the Old Capitol Museum. This area, previously housing the Old Capitol Museum gift shop, has been recently renovated to be a rotating gallery. The Pentacrest Museums plan to use this new space to present a variety of exhibits that highlight intersections among disciplines.

"This new gallery provides us flexibility to develop new programming with broad themes that bring together the arts, humanities and sciences," said Pentacrest Museums Interim Director John Logsdon. "The maize exhibit will be first of many such exhibits that will blur traditional disciplinary boundaries and illuminate their connections."

Maize, what Iowans know as corn, has become the largest production crop in the world and plays a central role in all of United States agriculture and food production, with Iowa being the top corn-producing state in the nation. The traveling exhibit explores the science and history of maize: what it is, why it is important and how it has changed over the thousands of years that humans have cultivated the crop. Visitors travel through the history of maize, from its evolutionary past to its present-day uses, discovering how maize has become the significant crop it is today.

The National Science Foundation Plant Genome Research Program provided funding for "Maize," which was developed and managed by the Paleontological Research Institution and the Museum of the Earth in Ithaca, N.Y.

In an interview with the Ithaca Times, Theresa Fulton, director of education and training for the Institute for Genomic Diversity at Cornell University, explains how maize is a great tool for education because of how easily kids can relate to it.

"Evolution is happening all the time, it's ongoing, it's good and it creates diversity," she said. "We want students to learn that becoming a scientist is not a strange thing and that we are just regular people who are interested in science, just like some of them."

The Pentacrest Museums feature both permanent and rotating galleries highlighting Iowa's cultural and natural history. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday; and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. The museums are closed Mondays and national holidays. For more information, visit


SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: John Logsdon, 319-335-1082,; Steve Parrott, 319-384-0037, Writer: Ryan Lindsay