top of page


Sherman Township, Calhoun C, Iowa, 2004. Copyright © 2004 by David Plowden


This exhibition is a collaboration between the Humanities Iowa, the Figge and other institutions. Learn more about the exhibition at a website sponsored by The University of Iowa Digital Studio for Public Humanities and Humanities Iowa, click here.​

David Plowden's Iowa

​A traveling exhibition sponsored by Humanities Iowa


“ Humanities Iowa is proud to announce the release of David Plowden’s Iowa; a capstone collection of Iowa photography from an American master. Proclaimed “an American treasure” by historian David McCullough, David Plowden has produced 20 books of photos and won many prestigious awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1967. His latest collection is curated from over four decades photographing our state, and offers a view of Iowa that is nostalgic yet timeless. David Plowden’s Iowa contains over 70 pages of photographs, along with an introductory essay by Rima Girnius, PhD, that  masterfully interprets Plowden’s Iowa photos and places them firmly within the context of his illustrious career. This book also includes a short biography as well as a conversation with Plowden about his work.”*


Since December 2011 a traveling exhibition of photographs from David Plowden's Iowa has been on display throughout the state. “ In this exhibition, Plowden’s photographs entice the viewer to get a “sense of” what life was, or still is, like in rural Iowa. He does not define Iowa or its inhabitants for his audience; instead, Plowden’s photographs rely on the viewer’s interpretation.”* David Plowden's photographs are on display at the following venues through 2014.

​*From the Figge Art Museum website


Blanden Memorial Art Museum, Fort Dodge, Iowa

August 30, 2014—December 31, 2014

University of Iowa Pentacrest Museums, Iowa City, Iowa

June 7, 2013—August 25, 2013


Iowa History Center at Simpson College, Indianola, Iowa

February 1, 2013—May 31, 2013


The Sioux City Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center /
Betty Strong Encounter Center, Sioux City, Iowa

November 8, 2012—January 13, 2013

Figge Art Museum, Davenport, Iowa

May 12, 2012—August 26, 2012

Dubuque Museum of Art, Dubuque, Iowa

December 9, 2011 - March 25, 2012

St. Luc, Montreal, 1960. Copyright © 1960 by David Plowden



Links to interviews and articles about this traveling exhibition.


O. Winston Link




Oliver Jensen



Requiem for Steam: The railroad photographs of David Plowden​

A traveling exhibition sponsored by Center for Railroad Photography and Art


“ David Plowden is one of the most important American photographers to make images of the nation’s railroads. His fascination with railroads, and especially steam locomotives, was the root of his life’s work as a photographer. His serious photography education started with an apprenticeship to O. Winston Link in 1958, and then he began studying with Minor White in the fall of 1959. Plowden left White after only six months, the imminent end of steam on the Canadian Pacific calling more strongly than White’s workshop. Frustrated by his new protégé’s decision, but understanding the importance of steam locomotives to Plowden, White said, "Go do your damned engines and get them out of your system or you’ll never do anything again."


Plowden did, and he went onto create a vast body of work documenting the railroad environment. He is best known to railroad enthusiasts and railfans for his images of steam locomotives, yet he has approached nearly every facet of railroading.”*


Museum of the Gulf Coast, Port Arthur, Texas

October 5 — December 29, 2013


O. Winston Link Museum, Roanoke, Virginia
February 10— May 6, 2012


Bryan Memorial Gallery, Jeffersonville, Vermont
All Aboard: An Exhibit of Trains, February 3 —April 1, 2012


Grohmann Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
December 16, 2011 – February 6, 2012


Oliver Jensen Gallery, Essex, Connecticut
June 24 – September 5, 2011


California State Railroad Museum, Sacramento, California
October 1, 2010-January 6, 2011

​*Quote by Alexander Craghead, from Railfan and Railroad magazine​​

The Tunkhannock Viaduct, Nicholson, PA, 1973. Copyright © 1973 by David Plowden

Bridges: The Spans of North America

“ Following the widely-acclaimed exhibition of David Plowden's railroad photographs—Requiem for Steam, 2011—the artist returns to present images from his years of work photographing dozens of bridges across the American landscape as part of a Guggenheim fellowship. Many of these engineering marvels no longer exist but in the imagination and in these captivating works. In Plowden's words, there is no more overt, powerful, or rational expression of accomplishment—of man's ability to build. This exhibition is a tribute to the artist and those expressions of accomplishment.​”


Grohmann Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

​January 18 — April 28, 2013

bottom of page