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Iowa Science Museums, Planetariums, and Aquariums

Soar into outer space and dance among the stars. Travel back in time to the age of the dinosaurs. Touch a 12-foot Burmese python. Feel awed and inspired at Iowa’s science museums. From robot building to stargazing, be delighted as you explore your world.

Tour a set of science centers at Waterloo’s Grout Museum District. Bluedorn Science Imaginarium is a fascinating playground of exploration with three stories of hands-on experiments. Learn how to bottle lightning, create your own laser show, and meet a giant snake. Nearby at the Grout Museum of History and Science, you can immerse yourself in Iowa’s natural history and watch shows at the planetarium. There’s also a planetarium in Cherokee at the Sanford Museum, a broad-minded showcase of archaeology, astronomy, geology, and paleontology.

Be wowed with IMAX shows in a six-story theater at the Science Center of Iowa, located in Downtown Des Moines. Lose track of time playing with interactive exhibits spread across two floors. Build rockets made of paper and have lunch at the Food Chain Café. In Dubuque, discover 12 aquariums and cool outdoor exhibits at the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium.

Bluedorn Science Imaginarium

Located in Waterloo’s Grout Museum District, the Bluedorn Science Imaginarium boasts a variety of fun, hands-on displays showcasing the vast world of science. Featured exhibits include ROBOTIX, a workshop where visitors can build futuristic machines, Bottled Lighting, an interactive electricity display, and much more.

The science center often will host live science demonstrations as well throughout the year. So visit Waterloo and don’t miss a moment of the educational fun. It's a short drive from Independence, making your trip to eastern Iowa a blast.

Science Center of Iowa

Located in Des Moines, the Science Center of Iowa offers two stories of interactive science displays and educational fun. On the main level, guests will find the John Deere Adventure Theater, Small Discoveries, Iowa Learning and Center, and the primary attraction, the Blank IMAX Dome Theater.

The second level consists of further displays like the Start Theater, Outdoor Demonstration Theater, and more. Don’t forget to visit the Food Chain Café during your science exploration. Enjoy a tour of the Science Center of Iowa on your next stop in Clive, a charming city central Iowa nearby.

Sanford Museum & Planetarium

Established in 1951, the Sanford Museum & Planetarium is located northern Iowa in the city of Cherokee. Covering topics like archaeology, astronomy, geology, and paleontology – plus art and history – the Sanford Museum is free to the public.

Iowa’s first museum to be accredited by the American Association of Museums, the Sanford Museum is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and weekends from noon to 5 p.m.

Grout Museum of History & Science

Located in Waterloo, the Grout Museum of History and Science focuses on Iowa’s regional history – both natural and man-made. The museum features a number of rotating exhibits so visitors are kept on their toes when they make their return. Drive in from nearby Independence and enjoy the Grout Museum.

Some of the permanent exhibits include the Engine of the Heartland, Pioneer Hall, and From Black Soil to Golden Ear. Planetarium Shows are frequently put on as well, so play your visit today. A trip to the Grout Museum should be a part of any trek through eastern Iowa.