A stop at Henry Moore’s beautiful Mini Americana Barn Museum in South Amana is a treat we will long remember. Stopping here 15 years ago or more, we enjoyed this visit as much as before.
Although Henry Moore is gone now, his son John Moore, who has contributed a few barns of his own, runs the museum. John shared some facts with us and even opened the museum just before closing time to these two farm history buffs!
The Mini American Barn Museum is actually located inside a barn!
Henry Moore’s dream
Henry Moore was a retired farmer. He created his first miniature barn that is part of the museum at the age of 58. The barn was originally created for his grandchildren. It was a miniature of the farm he lived on near Depew Palo Alto County Iowa. His wife Charlotte took pictures of the original barn, then measured the buildings he wanted to reproduce. Then Henry drew blueprints and began to build!
Interest in miniatures came at the early age of ten. In his museum Henry Moore built everything from recreating his homestead to reproducing the Amana village horse barn. The Mini Americana Barn Museum opened in July 1976.
According to the website Henry Moore was all about detail. “Each exhibit is finished in complete detail, inside and out: Shingles are fashioned from real cedar, siding is worked to exact proportions, and windowpanes are made of real glass. Houses have curtains; the blacksmith shop has a forge; and the barns have pens, mangers and even movable stanchions. Activities abound from fertile imaginations.”
The Displays at the museum
Our walk through the museum took us past many wonderful sites. We viewed Henry Moore’s version of an 1880 California logging camp. This depicted history of redwood logging in California. Henry spent two months researching the creation of the Clallam Company logging camp. The real camp existed less than 20 years and was destroyed by fire before 1900!
We saw a Plains Indian village with tents made of animal skins. Viewing a lumber camp I saw workers cabins and many farm scenes. They include realistic farm machinery like a threshing machine.
One wonderful surprise is a replica of New Salem, Illinois, the boyhood home of Abraham Lincoln! There is sod houses and an 1880 farmstead replicating Henry’s grandfather William Ransler Moore. The view includes memories of the 240 acre farm. Here they raised cattle, pigs and milk cows. They had geese, ducks and chickens. “Oats were harvested by a horse-drawn binder and threshed by a steam powered machine. Corn was picked by hand the grove of trees provided a windbreak for farm buildings, and was a conservation practice of the area.”
My favorite display
There is so much more to see, but the Amana replicas are my favorite. The center section of the museum building houses buildings throughout the Amana Colonies. They are built one inch to a one foot scale. These were built from 1974 to 1983. Museum information states that Henry Moore combined buildings from all the Amana villages, “Amana, High Amana, Homestead, Middle and West into one complex with barns, granaries, homes, wash houses and other typical buildings.”
In the museum is a bit of Amana history. The settlers arrived from Germany coming to America for religious freedom. Ebeneezer, New York was their first settlement in 1848. They lived in a communal society led by the rules of their church, an offset of 16th century Lutheranism.
The Amana Colonies were founded in 1854, Amana being the first Village. Henry Moore wrote, “In 1932 they joined the system of free enterprises. It was known as the Great Change. In the 70 years since many older buildings have perished.”
The Barn Museum is usually open daily from 9am-5pm, April though October, however with COVID-19m currently they are only open on the weekends!. Cost to tour is very reasonable. General admission is $3.50 / Teens – $1.75 / Children – $1.25 Children under 5 are free – Group tour rates are available.
If you get a chance to stop in, do, it is great fun!