A large piece of furniture called a beauty bar acts as a snack counter. Food for purchase is on display under the counter and at the sides on shelves. A person stands behind it, ready to serve customers.

Photo of the “Beauty Bar” from Wild Bill’s Coffee Shop, 1980s. From Tom Walz, courtesy of Lane Wyrick.

The exhibition in the Main Library Gallery includes an homage to Wild Bill’s Coffee Shop. The Beauty Bar was loaned to the University of Iowa Libraries by the University of Iowa School of Social Work for the duration of the exhibit, helping to bring Wild Bill’s to life.

From co-curator Jen Knights: 

“I love this piece because it was the focal point of Wild Bill’s Coffee Shop when I was managing the shop—and for many years before that, though it came to Wild Bill’s after Bill himself had died. After Bill, dozens of other people with disabilities ran the coffee shop from behind the Beauty Bar, and it made a wonderful conversation piece. Even though it wasn’t touched by Bill Sackter, it’s an illustration of the creativity and resourcefulness that made Wild Bill’s possible in the first place. I’m not sure how Tom Walz acquired it, but he had a habit of finding neat things that were cast aside or undervalued, rehabilitating them, and finding a new place for them to shine. He helped do that for Bill, too.” 

Black and white photo of a pharmacy featuring the beauty bar on the left, a lunch counter with stools, and shelves of pharmacy products.

Mott’s Drug Store, Iowa City, 1947. The beauty bar came from here and can be seen in the far left of the photo. Special Collections & Archives, University of Iowa Libraries.