In the long history of rock and roll music, Iowa is, unfortunately, best known as the state where Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and The Big Bopper were killed in a plane crash. Of course, there’s much more to it than that. The UNI Museum’s exhibit Ballroom Bash: Iowa’s Rock n’ Roll Legacy shines a light on Iowa’s influence and importance in rock history. The exhibit has been on display at UNI’s Rod Library since August of 2016. It’s a collaboration between the UNI Museum and the Iowa Rock n’ Roll Music Association.
The exhibit features pieces on loan from the Iowa Rock n’ Roll Music Association and the Cedar Falls Historical Society, along with several private contributors, including leader of the Blue Band and Iowa rock and roll hall of fame inductee, Iowa Public Radio’s own Bob Dorr. Iowa bands Headstone and House Of Large Sizes are also featured prominently.
The exhibit also includes pieces from more well-known artists, such as The Doobie Brothers, whose original drummer Keith Knudsen was born in Le Mars, and The Everly Brothers, who spent time in Iowa during their childhood.
The Ballroom Bash exhibit will remain in UNI’s Rod Library through August of this year, and will host a performance by UNI’s West African Drum Ensemble on April 20th. The exhibit maintains the same hours as the Library during the week, but visitors are encouraged to stop by during business hours in order to ask questions and receive a personal walkthrough from Museum staff.
This story originally aired during the February edition of IPR’s Iowa Arts Showcase. Thanks to Jess Cruz and Nathan Arndt of the UNI Museum for their participation and assistance.