Stories Leisure

Off the Beaten Path: Museum Trail

Due to COVID-19, museums may have reduced hours, closures, or new visiting procedures. Please confirm before visiting.

Explore the historic and sometimes quirky side of Iowa South’s past by visiting some of our many museums. Discover our mining past, experience life as a pioneer, walk amongst art, and create your own rendition of American Gothic. 

Work your way along this museum trail over a leisurely summer road trip, all in one day for a fast-paced learning extravaganza, or visit them one by one throughout many well spent weekends. 

Please note, that hours and admission prices can change. We encourage you to confirm hours and prices before visiting.

Prairie Trails Museum

Corydon, Iowa

Uncover Iowa’s pioneer past and so much more as you explore Prairie Trails' exhibits. Travel westward on the Mormon Trail, walk through an early 1900s Main Street, explore the museum’s Heritage Barn and interactive area for children, pay tribute to our armed forces, and watch life progress through the 1900s’ earliest decades.

After you explore, take a break and enjoy the property’s park and picnic area before hitting the road again. 

Price
Adults: $5
College: $3
Jr.-Sr. High: $2
K-6th Grade: $1

Hours
April 15 - October 31
Open hours vary by month, please visit the Prairie Trails website for open hours when you plan to visit.


Extend the fun: On your way to your next stop, visit the Lucas County Historical Museum in Chariton and the John L. Lewis Memorial Museum of Mining & Labor in Lucas.


Appanoose County Historical and Coal-Mining Museum

Centerville, Iowa

Courtesy of Appanoose County Historical Society

Appanoose County Historical Society keeps nostalgia alive with these museum exhibits preserving the county’s history, from its past in coal mining to farming tools of old to retro community signage. Not to mention, the building itself carries the nostalgia of its past life as a U.S. Post Office. The museum’s stand-out exhibits include two walk-in replicas of coal mines. 

 

Price
Adults: $4.00
Students: $1.00

Hours
Summer Season (Mid-May through Mid-October)
Monday - Friday | 1:00 - 5:00 pm
Saturday | 10:00 am - 4:00 pm

Off-Season (Mid-October through Mid-May)
Wednesday - Friday | 1:00 - 4:00 pm

Please contact the museum for more information.


Local Tip: Emily Shipley, Executive Director of Villages of Van Buren, Inc. recommends the Pearson House Museum Complex in Keosauqua for its history as a stop along the Underground Railroad and the Indian Artifact Museum in Bentonsport for its extensive collection and intricate wood displays built by well-known local Tony Sanders. Stop by both on your way to your next stop!


American Gothic House & Center

Eldon, Iowa

You know the famous painting, now see the American Gothic house for yourself. You’ll definitely want to snap a photo or two with your own twist on the iconic pose. Costumes and props are available to borrow for your photo op from the visitor center.

The center, located on the same property as the house, includes an exhibition gallery about the history of the home, the American Gothic painting, and the painter himself, Grant Wood. In the center’s media room, visitors can delve deeper into the history of the painting and property with a 30-minute documentary and/or a 17-minute cartoon if visiting with young ones. On your way out, visit the gift shop to purchase souvenirs, including handmade crafts and original art from local artists.

Price
Free
Donations are always welcome

Hours
Visitor Center
Please visit their website for up to date hours.

American Gothic House Tours
Second Saturday of the month from April to October | 10:00 am - 4:00 pm

Parking Lot & Grounds
Always open for the public, regardless of visitor center hours.

If you have any questions or need more information, please contact the visitor center

Carnegie Historical Museum

Fairfield, Iowa

The Carnegie Historical Museum’s collection dates back to 1877 and most likely began several years before. It houses 11 exhibits: Civil War, Militaria, Ethnic Curios, Native American, Roman, Birds, Natural History, Pioneer Artifacts, and local exhibits about area industry, Brown Pharmacy, and Parsons College. 

Many items in the museum were donated by the Smithsonian. Highlights from exhibits include Native American pottery, a seated taxidermied monkey, and Roman terracotta and marble statuary.

Price 
Please contact the museum for admission details.

Hours
Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday | 1:00 - 4:00 pm
Fairfield 1st Fridays Art Walk | 6:00 - 9:00 pm

Please contact the museum if you have any questions.


Extend the fun: Visit the Johnny Clock Museum in Lockridge and the Keokuk County Historical Museum in Sigourney.


Nelson Pioneer Farm & Museum

Oskaloosa, Iowa

Courtesy of Nelson Pioneer Farm

Step back in time on this historic farm, settled in 1843 by Daniel and Margaret Nelson. Today the property is home to 15 historic buildings, a museum, a nature trail, and more. Explore the Nelson’s original home and barn, a historic cabin, a country school, an early 1900s general store, a reproduction of a blacksmith shop, a restored sawmill, and the only mule cemetery (known of) in Iowa. 

Price 
Adults: $7.00
Students: $2.00
Children 5 and under: Free
Historical Society Members: Free

Hours
May - September
Tuesday - Saturday | 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Sunday | 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Closed Mondays

Please contact the museum with any questions.


Extend the fun: Keep exploring with a visit to the Airpower Museum in Ottumwa.


Share this Story

Featured Counties

Appanoose, Jefferson, Keokuk, Lucas, Mahaska, Wapello, Wayne

More Stories