After serving as the city’s central public library for more than a century, the riverfront World Food Prize Hall of Laureates now glows following a top-to-bottom restoration. Footsteps echo in quiet rooms as visitors absorb the inspiring story of the World Food Prize, honoring people who have labored to end world hunger.
Upon entering the two-story rotunda, visitors find their gaze drawn to the round stained-glass skylight, meticulously repaired and reinstalled in the dome. Sculptures of wheat, soy, corn and rice anchor the four corner columns. A short video presentation sets the stage for the facility, and knowledgeable volunteer docents in each room provide further details. Paintings, sculptures, tapestries and murals on rich backgrounds of wood, marble and tile highlight agricultural history and progress. In the Iowa Gallery, visitors can reflect on vibrant artistic renderings of famous figures like Henry Wallace, Herbert Hoover, Norman Borlaug and George Washington Carver. WPA murals have been uncovered in the old children’s department (much to the delight of art buffs); outside, gardens encircle a fountain and statuary.
The World Food Prize Hall of Laureates sits just a block or two from restaurants, hotels, performing arts venues and a new riverfront trail. A side entrance offers wheelchair accessibility. Admission is free.