Group Guide to Museums in 2021
Planners seeking to take their group to a tranquil environment filled with culture would be wise to include a museum or two on their itinerary. Not only do museums educate and engage those who visit, they also entertain, inspire and are a great way to bring people together. Whether your group wants to immerse itself in famous works of art or want to enjoy vibrant, colorful quilts, these museums have something that will appeal to each traveler.
Iowa Quilt Museum
Quilts are both an iconic part of American culture and history and a vibrant artform. The Iowa Quilt Museum is located in beautiful Madison County, home of the famous covered bridges and the birthplace of John Wayne. The museum, located in downtown Winterset in a former JCPenney storefront, is just steps away from two quilt shops in an award-winning shopping district. Featuring rotating exhibits of both historic and contemporary quilts, each visit is a new experience, so schedule your groups to visit again and again.
Future exhibits at the museum include Celebrating 40 Years of the Manhattan Quilters Guild, which celebrates the signature styles of the guild’s 21 members; Mary Barton’s Quilt & Textile Legacy, which spotlights Mary’s comprehensive collections of quilts, costumes and fashion plates; and Here Comes the Sun, where the museum will honor the sun with a study of the color orange in both historic and temporary quilts.
Antique items throughout the building are native to Madison County. The museum features items such as the treadle sewing machines on loan from Tony Jacobsen and the Madison County Historical Museum, display cases from historic local merchants, and a four-poster bed from the Madison County Historical Society, currently in use for a bed-turning display of additional quilts. The museum’s gift shop offers a wide variety of quilting-related items and gifts. Many of the pieces in the shop are hand-made by local quilters and artists. Groups can schedule a guided gallery walk with Marianne Fons. There’s no doubt you will find a unique souvenir for yourself or a gift for a loved one. The museum gives visitors to Madison County another reason to spend time in a classic, rural town center.
Ashland Henry Clay Foundation
Ashland, the Henry Clay Estate, welcomes your visit to the museum and National Historic Landmark located in the heart of Lexington, Kentucky. Tour options available for purchase include private pre-booked mansion tours, large pre-booked group/bus tour and virtual tours. The Henry Clay Estate is open Tuesday-Friday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sundays from 1-4 p.m. The 17-acre Arboretum is open daily to visitors for self-guided tours from daylight until dusk, free of charge.
Clay was an American attorney and statesman who represented Kentucky in both the Senate and the House. He was a prominent anti-slavery activist and was appointed Secretary of State by President John Quincy Adams. He was famously known as the Great Pacificator for his contributions to domestic policy. The Henry Clay Memorial Foundation’s mission is to promote the legacy of Clay, to share his continued relevance locally and nationally as a great statesman and to preserve his beloved Ashland as a testament to his love of Kentucky and country.
Art at Ashland features different artistic expressions that offer a variety of viewer experiences ranging from towering steel sculptures to small wattle structures. The estate offers a variety of tours including the Signature Henry Clay Tour and Traces: Slavery at Ashland. Visitors can take self-guided outdoor tours of the estate’s outbuildings, formal garden and walking trails. They can also enjoy a pre-booked private mansion tour including the Signature Henry Clay (indoors), Women’s Voices (indoors) and Traces: Slavery at Ashland (indoors/outdoors). Tours are available to groups of up to eight people from no more than two households. Large group/bus tours are also available as large groups will be divided into smaller groups to allow for social distancing.
Aktá Lakota Museum & Cultural Center
American Indian history comes to life at the Aktá Lakota Museum & Cultural Center located on the campus of St. Joseph’s Indian School in Chamberlain, South Dakota. The museum is devoted to preserving and promoting the arts and history of the Northern Plains Indian people. View beautiful exhibits of contemporary art and historical artifacts. Opened in 1991 on the campus of the St. Joseph’s Indian School, the museum is housed in the former school building, an octagon-shaped building with 14,000 square feet of display space. The museum’s collection features art, artifacts and educational displays that depict the proud heritage of the Lakota people. Much of the museum’s original collection comes from gifts given to St. Joseph’s by alumni and friends since the school’s opening in 1927. The museum also houses a Collector’s Gallery, which gives local artists a place to display and sell their work.
The museum is more than a traditional museum, it is an experience that provides visitors with a living lesson on the Native American way of life. Visitors are taken on a visual journey through the proud heritage of the Sioux and into the excitement of contemporary Sioux art. A museum tour reflects four cardinal colors and directions: East – Camp Circle depicts life on the plains prior to the Euro-American contact as exhibits explain historical relationships of tribes and bands; South – Two Worlds Meet details the arrival of Euro-American explorers, missionaries, traders and settlers in the early 1800s; West – Broken Promises outlines the U.S. government’s involvement with the Sioux, the loss of traditional lands and treaties; and North – Continuity and Change illustrates how Native Americans adapted to their new way of life and successfully preserved their traditions and heritage. Your group will leave enriched in Northern Plains Indian history. Free admission. Open year-round.
The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art
The Morse Museum in Winter Park, Florida houses the world’s most comprehensive collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933), including the artist and designer’s jewelry, pottery, paintings, art glass, leaded-glass lamps and windows, and his chapel interior from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. In 2011, the Morse Museum opened a wing to exhibit its collection of art and architectural objects from Tiffany’s celebrated Long Island home, Laurelton Hall, the largest repository of these materials anywhere.
The museum’s Tiffany collection is broad, deep and unique. It includes fine examples in every medium Tiffany explored, in every series of work he produced and from every period of his life. In her book The Art of Louis Tiffany, Vivienne Couldrey described the Morse’s holdings as “the most important collection of Tiffany material in the world today.” Among the most fascinating objects in the Tiffany collection are the brilliantly colored windows, mosaics, marble, jewels, glass, stone and furnishings that make up the chapel interior Tiffany created for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. The variety of the Morse’s Tiffany holdings range from his famous leaded-glass windows and lamps to the glass buttons his firm fashioned to make even life’s most humble objects expressions of beauty. The collection in addition includes examples that define him as a painter, decorator, architect, photographer and landscape architect.
The Morse also features a wide variety of non-Tiffany art and is a treasure house of American decorative art from the mid-19th century to the early 20th century. One particular interest is the Morse’s extensive African art pottery collection, which now numbers more than 800 examples, including almost 500 Rookwood pieces. The Morse also contains American leaded-glass windows by Tiffany contemporaries such as Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright and Arthur Nash. The sculpture collection includes works by Thomas Crawford, Hiram Powers, John Rogers and others. Highlights of the museum’s painting collection includes works by Samuel F.B. Morse, Thomas Doughty, George Inness and more.
Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science
The award-winning C.M. Russell Museum in Great Falls, Montana, collects, preserves, researches and educates on the art and life of America’s cowboy artist Charles M. Russell. The museum contains more than 3,000 pieces of Western art in a complex that covers two city blocks and encompasses 16 exhibition galleries, an outdoor sculpture garden, and Russell’s home and artist studio. With nearly 1,000 Russell creations, the museum presents Russell’s authentic reflection of Western history.
Russell masterfully captured the art and soul of the American West through 4,000-plus recorded works featuring oil paintings, watercolor, sculptures and writing. Russell achieved this by establishing an inspired visual record celebrating Indigenous culture, Western narratives, grand landscapes and majestic wildlife scenes. While his art is considered historic, his spirit is timeless. Other artists who are showcased at the museum include contemporaries who have captured the traditions of North Plains Indian life, Montana wildlife and landscapes and cowboy culture. Guests will discover important works from such artists as O.C. Seltzer, Winold Reiss, Joseph H. Sharp, E.E. Heikka, Maynard Dixon, E.I. Couse, Olaf Wieghorst, Henry Farny and more.
Among the museum’s permanent exhibitions are The Bison, which addresses the crucial historical and cultural role of the bison for all people in the Northern Plains between 1800 and 2008, and Firearms, Technology and the American West, which explores how the evolution of firearms design, technology and function opened the door for firearms to be used for self-defense, hunting and sport. The museum draws more than 30,000 annual visitors who visit Great Falls to immerse themselves in Russell’s West at the museum and at the onsite crown jewel of the Russell legacy: The original Russell House and Studio, a National Historic Landmark.