Mobile Museum 2018: Call for Participation

For more information on previous exhibits and the Mobile Museum vehicle (and its limitations), see our exhibit planning page.

On behalf of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development (OVPRED), the Pentacrest Museums and Office of the State Archaeologist invite UI departments to participate in the development of exhibits for the 2018 UI Mobile Museum.

The Mobile Museum is a custom-built 38-foot RV which showcases the research and creativity of UI faculty, staff, and students at outreach and education events statewide. Venues include the Iowa State Fair, RAGBRAI, county and town fairs, and school and library presentations, among many others. Since launching in 2014, the Mobile Museum has reached over 100,000 visitors in 68 counties in Iowa, and these numbers continue to grow. This project brings UI research and creativity to people across Iowa in an engaging, high-impact manner, and provides an excellent mechanism for faculty and staff to expand the broader impacts of their research and creative projects. Mobile Museum exhibits are replaced each winter, with each set displayed for an entire travel season.

The Mobile Museum team is now accepting proposals for participation in 2018. We seek a combination of compelling exhibits from across the humanities, arts, and sciences at the University of Iowa. You may submit a proposal in any of three general categories:

  • Object-based physical exhibits typically include artifacts, specimens, or other physical objects, along with printed text and digital components. These are the headline exhibits for the Mobile Museum. The proposing team or department will be expected to contribute substantial time to the development and design process, in partnership with experienced Mobile Museum staff.  We expect to include 3 physical exhibits in 2018.
  • Major digital-only exhibits are displayed on a dedicated 46” touchscreen and include engaging multi-level interactive content. The proposing team or department should have access to appropriate developer and designer expertise, although some funding will be provided by the Mobile Museum project. We can include at most one exhibit in this category.
  • Digital vignettes are displayed on a 46” touchscreen including 4-6 vignettes per year. They typically include less content and less complicated storylines than dedicated digital-only exhibits.  Proposing teams/departments will be expected to help develop their vignette’s storyline and to contribute some text, photos, videos, and ideas for interactive features. We use the software Intuiface ( for these exhibits.

For all categories, the exhibit development and design process will take place over the fall and winter. In addition, selected exhibit partners may be asked to accompany the Mobile Museum to selected outreach events in summer 2018, especially the Iowa State Fair. 

While we ask that your team submit a proposal in the category you think best fits your content, proposals not accepted for a physical exhibit may be considered for the development of a digital exhibit instead. In some cases, it may be possible to add or enhance digital exhibits after the beginning of the travel season.

Priority will be given to exhibit proposals that include:

  • A compelling storyline with strong potential for visitor engagement and interaction
  • A clear, strong focus on current ongoing research or creative activity at the University of Iowa
  • Student involvement in the research or creative activity
  • A commitment of departmental/program resources or efforts (faculty or staff time, student time, funding, demonstrations, digital component development, hardware, volunteer docent time, etc.)

If you are interested in this opportunity, have questions, or want to get some feedback about ideas before submitting a full proposal, please contact J.C. Gillett, the Mobile Museum coordinator, at

Developing and submitting your proposal

Departments, faculty, or staff interested in exhibiting in the Mobile Museum should submit a proposal online using our submission form. You will need to address the following points:

For all proposals:

  • What is the basic outline, summary content, or storyline of your exhibit?
  • What makes the proposed exhibit appropriate for the Mobile Museum?
  • What explicit links will the exhibit have to ongoing UI research or creative work?
  • Why will your work resonate with a public audience?
  • What will make the exhibit particularly interesting or relevant to our Iowa audience?
  • What resources (financial, in-kind effort, volunteerism) can you contribute to the exhibit?

For physical exhibit proposals:

  • What objects (or types of objects) could be presented with your exhibit?
  • What photos, videos, or other media could you provide?
  • What non-digital interactive or hands-on components could be included with the exhibit?
  • What digital interactive content could be included with the exhibit?
  • Would you be willing to accompany the Mobile Museum occasionally to provide subject matter expertise?

For digital-only proposals (in-depth or vignette):

  • What photos, videos, or other media could you provide?
  • What interactive elements (beyond photo and video) would help illustrate your story?
  • Do these interactive elements already exist, or would they require development?

With all proposals, identify a primary contact person as well as participants anticipated to be involved (including undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff as appropriate for your proposal). Mobile Museum staff will assist each selected team with the development and design of the exhibit based on your proposal. Proposals selected for development will require completion of an agreement document with OVPRED.

Submit your proposal using the form at  Proposals are due by July 31.

Timeline for Mobile Museum 2018

The current timeline for final exhibit planning and development is as follows.  

  • July 31: Proposals due
  • August 11: Exhibits for 2018 chosen and departmental contacts notified; introductory meeting and planning begins
  • October 16: Draft written content due; objects and media material selected.
  • November 22: Mobile Museum Staff comments/reviews of draft materials due back to proposers
  • January 8: Final written content due
  • January-March: Exhibit design finalized; component fabrication; printing; installation.
  • March 5: Exhibit mockups installed and available for comment
  • March 12: Proposed changes to mockup due
  • April 1: Mobile Museum 2018 ready for travel.


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