CURRENT HOURS: We are open! Mon-Sat, 9am-4pm

2020 Season Guest FAQ

Thank you for your patience as we have worked behind the scenes to adapt to the new normal, in which we all find ourselves. We are excited to open our museum to the community and serve our mission in an adapted way this year. You will find many of the same favorite sites and experiences, but also some changes. As always, we seek to provide a welcoming experience and continually improve our offerings. If you have a suggestion or concern, please share it with a staff member or fill out a guest survey before you leave. Some of our experiences this year will be new or different, and we want your feedback.

Is there a new ticketing process?

While the museum property spans 500 acres, some of our popular historic sites are relatively small and can become busy during peak times. In an effort to maintain social distancing and spread guests out more evenly throughout the property, visitors will be directed to start their tour at a specific location and follow a one-way route.

Advance online purchase will be available in the coming weeks. Until then, tickets may be purchased at the door upon arrival.

How is touring different this season?

Our guests will either be directed to the tractor cart just outside the Visitor Center to begin their tour at the Historic Farm Sites, or to one of two homes, the Flynn Mansion or the Tangen Home, on the Town side of the museum. Touring the Historic Farms remains a one-way route beginning at the Ioway Indian Site, progressing through the 1850 Pioneer Farm, and finally to the 1900 Farm. You may tour as long as you like on your own schedule. On the town side of the museum, you will follow a prescribed path to sites in town. Touring in the 1876 Town of Walnut Hill will be directed one way to enter and one way to exit the museum. If there are 10 people at the next site, please wait to enter the building until you are invited by the interpreter, or as you see people leave the site.

All staff and volunteers are required to wear masks during museum hours and maintain proper social distancing. As a result, you may see more rope and stanchions and barriers to support these efforts. You will also notice that we are running three tractor carts this season and filling the carts at 50% capacity. Please use our tractor tracker app to see where the tractors are as you plan to tour the west side.

Most hands-on activities will be substituted with demonstrations this season. Food preparation demonstrations will be offered on a limited basis, but there will be no food sampling.

How should I prepare for visiting Living History Farms?

The health and safety of our guests is our number one priority. In addition to our Museum Code of Conduct for guests, Living History Farms has established the following guidelines for touring safely during the 2020 season in response to the pandemic:

Living History Farms urges guests to do their part when visiting and to follow CDC guidance to prevent the spread of infectious diseases by maintaining a safe distance between yourself and other groups; washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze; and most importantly, staying home if you feel sick.

All guests are strongly recommended to check their temperature at home before coming to Living History Farms. Again, if you are not feeling well, please stay home and plan to visit at a later time.

All guests are strongly recommended to wear masks when touring Living History Farms and maintain proper social distancing. All of our staff and volunteers are required to do this. If you do not have a mask at home, they are available for purchase at the MarketPlace Museum Store.

Living History Farms urges those who are part of a high-risk population, such as the elderly and people with underlying conditions, to take extra caution and follow CDC guidance for those at higher risk of serious illness.

Are any amenities closed?

All restrooms will be open, however, we are reducing the capacity of the restrooms to no more than 50% at one time. Please see the signs on the bathrooms to monitor your use.

The snack shop at the Flynn Mansion will allow one family/group at a time to purchase snacks. Please remain outside on the deck area to be invited in after the previous group exits. Hours will be posted and we will offer pre-packaged food and snack items only.

All retail purchases will take place in the MarketPlace Museum Store. We hope to offer retail purchases again at Greteman’s General Store next season.

What are the touring times this season?

We will be open Monday through Saturday from 9:00am-4:00pm. We will be closed on Sundays this season.

Our fall schedule will be posted in July after we know better what school tours in the 2020-2021 academic year look like.

What is LHF doing to enhance cleaning and sanitization at historic sites and general museum areas?

  • Frequent touch areas such as door handles, counters, etc. will be cleaned throughout the day by staff.
  • Hand sanitizer will be available to guests throughout the museum
  • Some hands-on activities like playing checkers in the Flynn Mansion have been temporarily removed.
  • Credit card PIN pads will be cleaned after use by each visitor.

I am a member; do I have any special privileges?

Members have been provided an additional one-month extension to their membership due to a month-long delay in opening for our 2020 general touring season.

Are any buildings or historic sites closed?

The Wallace Exhibit Center on the west side will be closed to general touring and re-purposed for summer camp as a lunch area during severe weather in order to ensure social distancing. Bathrooms will remain accessible and open to all guests.

What’s new this season?

The Red Barn Gallery, located behind the Blacksmith Shop at Living History Farms’ 1876 town of Walnut Hill, opened to the public on June 6th. This recently renovated 1940s-era hog barn now boasts a brand-new exhibit gallery and climate-controlled collections storage facility. Be sure to stop by the Red Barn Gallery this summer and visit our newest exhibit, which celebrates Living History Farms’ 50th Anniversary.

The repurposing of the Red Barn Gallery for collections storage and exhibit space was made possible through major grants from the State Historical Society of Iowa (HRDP grant), Bravo Greater Des Moines, and the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust, along with gifts from a number of individuals and families.

In July, we will host an art exhibit in conjunction with Ioway Culture Day, featuring works by six contemporary Ioway artists. These works look, in different ways, at our historical and modern relationships to the land and to wildness.

I am interested in sending my child to camp this summer. How will camp be different to ensure a fun and safe experience?

Although we know camp will be a little different this year, we will strive to maintain the aspects of camp that make it memorable and enjoyable, while following all applicable guidelines and best practices from relevant federal, state, and local officials and agencies, including the American Camp Association (ACA).

Living History Farms’ Day Camp program is accredited through the American Camp Association, which ensures we comply with almost 300 standards in different areas, from staffing and program development to health and safety.

Precautions taken by Living History Farms:

  • All museum staff and volunteers will wear face masks and complete daily health screenings.
  • Drop off and pick up will be modified, so that everyone stays in their vehicle until the camp counselor comes to your car.
  • At drop off, temperatures will be checked and a health questionnaire completed.
    • Anyone with a temperature of 100.4 or higher will not be permitted.
  • Camp groups will be spread out as much as possible to maintain physical separation of 6 feet between groups.
  • Campers are strongly encouraged to bring face masks or covering to be used when we cannot maintain a physical separation between groups.
  • Group sizes have always been limited to no more than 10 campers per group (6-8 campers for younger age groups)
  • Activities and games will be modified to keep camp groups separate as much as possible.
  • Campers will be washing their hands with soap and water frequently throughout the day. When soap and water is not available, they will use hand sanitizer.
  • Extra cleaning and sanitizing is being done at each camp site.
  • Each camp group will have its own set of supplies to use, to prevent sharing between groups. After use, these supplies will be cleaned.

What can I do to make sure my child is well and healthy to attend camp?

  • If your camper has a preexisting condition, contact your health care provider to see if going to camp is appropriate.
  • Monitor your child’s health. If they are ill or running a temperature, stay home.
  • Remind your child to cover their cough or sneeze and wash their hands.
  • Review proper handwashing techniques with your child and make sure they understand why it is important.
  • Send your child with a camp-appropriate, fun, face mask or covering that they can use when needed.

Will I receive a refund if I cancel a camp registration?

Cancellation and refund policy:

  • You have 5 business days after registering to request a full refund.
  • After 5 days, the normal refund policy applies:
    • All requests for cancellations must be received in writing at least two weeks prior to camp.
    • Send requests for cancellation to adminasst@LHF.org.
    • Any cancellations received after the two week deadline will not receive a refund.
    • Cancellations made more than 10 business days before reserved date: 50% cancellation fee.
    • Cancellations made less than 10 business days before reserved date: 100% cancellation fee.
    • There is a grace period of 5 business days after registering for camp to cancel at no charge.
    • If Living History Farms cancels camp, 100% is refunded.
    • If a camp runs as scheduled, no refund will be given for your absence.
  • If space is available, you may switch your registration to a different week with no fee.

For more details, view this parent information meeting that was recorded on May 27, 2020.