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University of Iowa News Release

 

Feb. 21, 2007

Old Capitol Museum Hosts 150th Anniversary Celebration Of Iowa's Constitution

On March 4, The Old Capital Museum will host a celebration commemorating the 150th anniversary of Iowa's constitution. The event begins at 1:30 p.m. in the Senate Chamber of the Old Capitol Museum, adjacent to the House Chamber where the constitution was drafted and adopted by state legislators in 1857.

In addition to showing the importance of Old Capitol in Iowa's history, the goal of the event is to create greater public awareness about the Iowa Constitution, which is one of 10 state constitutions that have been in continuous use for more than a century.

Willard "Sandy" Boyd, former UI president and current professor of law, noted how important the constitution is to Iowa's past and future.

"It affects our daily lives but we know little about it," he said. "We want the public to know of its impact."

Boyd was involved with Old Capitol's original restoration in 1976 and with the more recent renovation, which culminated in its reopening on May 6, 2006 following a fire in November 2001.

Iowa Gov. Chet Culver has been invited to the event and is tentatively scheduled to speak. Author Jack Stark will discuss of the constitution's impact on Iowa and why it has served the state for so long. Stark wrote "The Iowa State Constitution: A Reference Guide," and has written books on several other state constitutions.

Stark says one reason why Iowa's constitution has lasted as long as it has is because it gives the General Assembly flexibility to govern. "As its longevity and scarcity of amendments indicate, that constitution has served Iowa well," he said.

Stark's presentation will be followed by a short reenactment by UI students from the A. Craig Baird Debate Forum of an issue debated during the 1857 Constitutional Convention: whether Iowa City should remain the state capital or the capital should be moved to Des Moines.

In its first exhibition since being remodeled, the Old Capitol Museum is showcasing a visual representation of the history of Iowa's constitution in the Iowa Humanities Gallery through facts and vintage photographs. According to the exhibit, the Iowa Constitution is made up of only 7,997 words, which makes it much shorter and more succinct than other state constitutions. The exhibit notes that Iowa's constitution is very important to the UI because it established Iowa City as the site for the university.

Refreshments will follow the celebration. For more information, contact the Old Capitol Museum at 319-335-0548.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: George McCrory, 319-384-0012, george-mccrory@uiowa.edu; Program: Old Capitol Museum, 319-335-0548 Writer: Sam Ites

OTHER INFORMATION: http://www.uiowa.edu/~oldcap/index.html