DYERSVILLE, Iowa — They built it and people are definitely coming to a small museum dedicated to the “Field of Dreams” movie and film location in downtown Dyersville.
“We’ve had nearly 1,500 (visitors) this year,” said Amanda Schwartz, the manager of the If You Build It Exhibit at 201 First Ave. E.
Schwartz noted that the attendance figure is since the exhibit opened for the season in May.
“We had 850 last year, when we were only open from August to mid-October,” she said.
A stroll through the 1,000-square-foot exhibit space offers a comprehensive look at the origins of the 1989 film starring Kevin Costner, as well as the baseball diamond carved out of a cornfield that endures.
Here’s a look:
WHERE IS IT? WHEN IS IT OPEN?
The museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday into October. The museum will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, Aug. 9 to 14 — the days around the Aug. 12 game between the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees in Dyersville.
The cost of admission is $5, with children 5 and younger admitted for free.
The museum also sells T-shirts and other keepsakes.
WHAT DO YOU SEE?
The museum offers a collection of artifacts and informative panels devoted to the 1919 Chicago White Sox, the book “Shoeless Joe” by W.P. Kinsella, the “Field of Dreams” movie based on the book and the legacy of the film’s location in an area of farmland located northeast of Dyersville.
The museum’s artifacts include a model of the house featured in the movie. Al Koltz, a resident of the Green Bay, Wis., area, spent 300 hours creating the model, which measures 62 inches by 49 inches and weighs about 75 pounds. A nearby informative panel discusses modifications that filmmakers made to the original farmhouse on the movie site property, including adding bay windows and a front door facing the driveway.
Another panel tells visitors that the movie production incorporated other area communities as well. Filmmakers shot scenes in Dubuque; Farley, Iowa; and Galena, Ill.
The film’s legacy includes the Field of Dreams movie site as well as the Ghost Players, a group of local baseball players and extras from the film who make occasional personal appearances at the movie site dressed in the wool uniforms worn in the film.
WHERE DID THIS STUFF COME FROM?
The exhibit is the result of a partnership among the City of Dyersville, Dyersville Economic Development Corp., Dyersville Area Chamber of Commerce and Travel Dubuque. Staff from these entities conducted the research necessary for the informative panels, and Schwartz explained how organizers collected the artifacts.
“A lot of this stuff came from the Ghost Players,” she said. “They’re my local connection. A few of them were in the movie, so they had connections from there. (Ghost Players founder and CEO and President of Travel Dubuque) Keith Rahe is a huge connection for us, getting us with certain people that I wouldn’t have any luck with. (The Rahe family) was instrumental in us getting the 1919 baseball and some of the really neat, historical artifacts. That’s an integral part of telling this story and why it’s so important.”
DID YOU KNOW?
Exhibit officials advise guests that reading all of information on the panels can take up to 40 minutes.
Here are three examples of interesting tidbits gleaned from a stroll through the exhibit.
- The filmmakers shot the movie in the summer of 1988, one of the hottest and driest in Iowa history. Conditions were so hot and dry that filmmakers added green vegetable dye to the grass to keep it from turning brown.
- Property owner Don Lansing worked at John Deere Dubuque Works, so when he agreed to host the production of “Field of Dreams,” he got the filmmakers to agree to use John Deere equipment exclusively during the making of the movie.
- Ray Liotta, who played “Shoeless” Joe Jackson in the movie, admitted he has not yet seen the completed “Field of Dreams.” His mother was ill at the time of filming, and he associates the movie with that difficult time.