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Barn Museum


Ten years after our initial house moving project (which included four years of conversations, three years of negotiations with the school district, two years of planning, and a year of fundraising efforts), we broke ground on a new Barn addition to the Ankeny Area Historical Society Museum. Construction began in May 2005, with hopes to have the Barn Museum addition open by early 2006. Numberous members, well wishers, volunteers, and dignitaries attended the ceremony where Terrace Elementary third grade teacher Marge Schima and two of her students, John Nelson & Shelby Miller, chiseled out the first shovel of dirt to mark the beginning of the 30' x 70' two-story building. After touring the museums the previous fall, Ms. Schima's class raised $20 for the museum. The Barn, now complete and loaded with exhibits, is ready for you to come and explore during one of our open houses.


In the barn...


Des Moines Ordnance Plant

The Des Moines Ordnance Plant display  shows how .30 and .50 caliber bullets were made here in Ankeny, and discusses the vital part the plant played in the broader scope of World War II, and in the community as well. We have articles that detail the experiences of families who were displaced by the building of the plant, as the U.S. government purchased their farmland and did not give them the option to stay. View the videos.

Our exhibit about the Des Moines Ordnance Plant is the largest Iowa exhibit about the plant using text, photos, and artifacts. The exhibit traces the history of the plant, which was built in Ankeny in 1941. We also have video interviews from the men and women who worked there that are available to view. Various artifacts and oral histories from World War I and II are available for viewing in the barn.

Military Items

Many Ankeny men and women have served our country in wars and conflicts.  Some of the artifacts brought home are displayed at the museum, along with uniforms and vintage photos.  We cannot thank our forefathers enough for their service, and we appreciate all their efforts for our freedom.

DM Ordnance
1942 girls Basketball Team_edited.jpg

The Floppy Show

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We have the original Floppy Show puppet from the WHO children's television show on display, as well as video interviews of Duane Ellett and excerpts from the shows available to view. We recently acquired several copies of The Floppy Show book by Jeff Stein.

Historical Ankeny 

Ankeny High School class photos from the last century; a photo history of Ankeny Schools, sports, and activities; and the interior of a one-room school house. 

Ankeny Sports Team Championships

An exhibit honoring all of the athletic team championships of the Ankeny High Schools.  "The first high school girls' team to go to state was in 1942.  They rolled past Bode in the opening round, but fell to Clutier in overtime in the quarterfinals." - Iowa High Schools Girls Athletic Union, 100 Years-100 Memories.

Ankeny Schools

Farm Implements

Who can identify the vintage implements used on the farm?  Plows that were pulled by horses, hand sickles and scythes to cut growth, hand-cranked corn shellers, scales, rakes, milk containers, and lots of other items are displayed.  Some will remember the sleigh that was pulled by horses to get to school or town in winter months.

Vintage Parlor and Kitchen

As you look at this area, you will realize that none of the appliances or lamps run on electricity.  The people did not have to be concerned about the power going out!  The old corner hutch was given to the museum from the Ankeny family and hails back to the 1880s.  Even without TVs or computers, families had lots of other activities to keep them busy - playing the pump organ, sewing, or cooking on the wood-burning stove.

Coal Mining

Did you know there were more than 3 coal mines in the Ankeny area?  Many miners from Italy and Eastern Europe came to work in the mines that contained a soft coal.  Since it was "soft," it burned quickly and did not last as long as "hard" coal.  The mines ran out of coal after a few years and were closed.  But many miners stayed in the area and found other jobs to do.

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