"Old Capitol Museum is important to me, to the University, and to the state."

Harlan, Iowa

As a UI student, Mary Louise Petersen (1951 B.A.) was in charge of a women’s group that organized lectures in Old Capitol Museum’s Senate Chamber. The sound of the bell summoning her to class still rings in her ears.

That’s what prompted Mary Louise (1951 B.A.) and her husband, Rand (1951 B.A.), of Harlan, Iowa, to provide generous support for Pentacrest Museums in the form of a bequest gift committing $500,000 to the Old Capitol Museum Campaign—part of a $1 million gift that also includes support for the UI Museum of Natural History.

For Mary Louise—who was co-chair of the UI’s successful $1 billion comprehensive campaign, which ended on December 31, 2005, and who also co-chaired the Old Capitol Museum campaign committee—support for the Pentacrest Museums is a matter of personal history and civic pride.

“Old Capitol Museum is important to me, to the University, and to the state,” she said. “We have an opportunity to create an even better experience for everyone, from residents throughout Iowa and the region to UI students and faculty who will have a new platform for research and for presenting their work.”

On July 4, 1976, our nation’s bicentennial, Mary Louise was chair of the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, and helped preside over the ceremony reopening Old Capitol as a museum and marking its dedication as a National Register of Historic Places landmark. That was after an earlier historical renovation of Old Capitol, which, like the most recent renovation, also was made possible, in large part, by private support.

Mary Louise is fascinated by Old Capitol’s history as the first territorial and state capitol, the place where Iowa—and The University of Iowa—began. And she was excited to help Old Capitol Museum enter its next chapter of service.