Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad joined Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan — and more than 100 other Wells Fargo team members and business and community leaders — Nov. 10 to officially dedicate the Wells Fargo History Museum in Des Moines, Iowa.
“We want Iowa kids to know about the wonderful history and heritage of our state — to come, get in a stagecoach, and see what it was like to travel back then,” Branstad said. “This museum offers them a great opportunity to learn more about Iowa through its exhibits.”
Sloan said Wells Fargo is proud to celebrate Des Moines’ role as a crossroads of culture and commerce — and to invest in the city’s redevelopment.
“We believe that Wells Fargo is very much a main street bank,” Sloan said, “and when you’re a main street bank, you have to be very focused on the communities that you do business with.”
The museum’s downtown location makes it one of the future stops along the city’s new Art Route — a 6.6-mile painted connector path that will wind through Des Moines from the Iowa Capitol to Meredith Corporation. The free museum is expected to attract more than 25,000 visitors each year.
The 5,500-square-foot attraction includes an original Wells Fargo stagecoach, interactive displays chronicling Iowa’s roles in personal and mortgage lending, a rotating art gallery (a first for Wells Fargo museums), and the first “Wells Fargo wagon” — a tribute to Iowan Meredith Willson and his Broadway hit “The Music Man.” Other prominent Iowans featured include Jacob Levitt, who helped popularize personal lending, and Williard Beal, whose Iowa Securities Company eventually became Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. It’s still headquartered in West Des Moines.
Among the state and local dignitaries joining Branstad at the opening were Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, Greater Des Moines Partnership CEO Jay Byers, and Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie, who traced his own family’s ties with Wells Fargo to a business making harnesses for horses in the late 1800s.
Cownie said he will never forget a call he received at his office in 1993. It was his Wells Fargo banker, who wanted to touch base after hearing that flooding had put his company’s factory under water.
“I wouldn’t put my money anywhere but Wells Fargo,” Cownie said.