Exhibit Recalls Prohibition

Above: These protesters’ message couldn’t have been more clear, and it appears they drew a pretty good crowd during Prohibition.

Almost a century ago, Iowa was drier than any drought. The state, along with the rest of the nation, was immersed in “the noble experiment” of Prohibition.

From 1920 to 1933, the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution made it illegal for Americans to manufacture, sell or transport “intoxicating beverages.” That pivotal period of history is captured in a new traveling exhibition called “Spirited: Prohibition in America,” which comes to the State Historical Museum Sept. 1-Oct. 20.

“Almost a century has passed since Prohibition, and this traveling exhibition provides visitors the opportunity to discover its impact across the country,” says Susan Kloewer, administrator of the State Historical Society. “Iowa’s own Prohibition story intersects with this controversial time in our country’s history, and museum visitors can explore this topic further through an Iowa-focused display highlighting Iowa’s story.”

Visitors will learn about the role of liquor in American culture, the cultural revolution of the roaring ’20s, the rise of organized crime, the spread of morality campaigns, and the development of alternatives to booze, such as Dr. Welch’s Unfermented Wine, “near beer” and good old Coca-Cola.

Along with the exhibition, the museum will present a program Sept. 13 about liquor-by-the-drink laws in Iowa, a screening of “Whiskey Cookers” and a “History on the Rocks” program with Central College historian Lori Witt. For more information, click here.

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