Facts and figures about the exhibit, Morrill Act and founding of the USDA

The Lincoln quote that inspired Iowa State's exhibit.

Lincoln's call for the nation to "think anew and act anew" was the inspiration for the exhibit.

About the exhibit

  • Exhibit title: "Transforming Communities: Design in Action"
  • 10 feet tall, 26 feet wide, 18 feet deep
  • The steel truss system can be assembled by two or three people in about an hour
  • The T-shaped, powder-coated steel truss system weighs 1,340 pounds
  • When fully loaded, the estimated weight is one ton
  • Circular ribbon-board crawl on top is made of aluminum
  • 180-degree LED video curtain on the central column
  • Movable wall panels printed on Sintra, a lightweight, durable plastic
  • 130 total LED panels
  • 6 PDD (power and data distributor) controllers; each one powers 24 LEDs
  • 4 interactive touchscreen workstations
Central column of the exhibit.

Interactive games on touchscreen workstations help visitors think like a designer.

  • Integrated technology includes iPads used by exhibit staff
  • 2 flat screen video monitors
  • Video features projects in 23 Iowa towns, 4 towns in other states, and 3 international
  • Recording of Simon Estes, internationally acclaimed bass-baritone and ISU adjunct professor of music and theatre. He is narrating the quote from Abraham Lincoln’s 1862 annual message to Congress.
  • The interactive games, activities, student projects and demonstrations show the techniques and processes designers use to create, innovate and solve problems.

About the Morrill Act

  • President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act into law on July 2, 1862.
  • The Morrill Act committed the federal government to grant each state public land to establish colleges for its citizens. It laid the groundwork for the democratization of public higher education.
  • The new land-grant institutions, which emphasized agriculture and mechanic arts, opened opportunities to thousands of farmers and working people previously excluded from higher education.
  • Iowa was the first state to accept the provisions of the Morrill Act, making Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm (Iowa State University today) the first official land-grant university.
  • Today, 105 land-grant universities serve the nation and the world through learning, discovery and engagement.   
  • Land-grant universities added to the system in 1890 (including historically black colleges and universities) are known commonly as “the 1890s.” Native American tribal colleges were added in 1994, and are called “the 1994s.”

About the founding of the USDA

  • Lincoln signed legislation to create the U.S. Department of Agriculture on May 15, 1862.
  • Lincoln called it the "people's department." At the time, 90 percent of the people were farmers.
  • Today, USDA continues Lincoln's legacy by serving all Americans, the 2 percent who farm, as well as everyone who eats, wears clothes, lives in a house, or visits a rural area or a national forest.