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National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium to open new exhibit

DUBUQUE, Iowa (KWWL) — The Dubuque museum and aquarium is working on a new exhibit called ‘River of Innovation’ where visitors will get to see a 19th century belt-run boat engine machine work and also have a chance to get hands on with the equipment.

Three parts, one mission

The new exhibit will have three parts to it; the belt machine, a STEM section where visitors will learn about the science behind energy in motion and how this applies to boats traveling on the Mississippi River, and a maker space which gives families a chance to build their own boat engines and machinery.

Erin Dragotto, Vice President of Development for the museum says maker spaces are common for museums, but this one will be a unique way for them to tell more of Dubuque’s story.

“Maker spaces are more common in museums these days, but the importance for us is that it’s unique to river innovation so our focus will be on conservation and the industries that played a role in really originating Dubuque.”

The new exhibit will bring even more history of Iowa’s first city and continue the museums dedication to river conservation.

New space with some old friends

The exhibit will be filled with all new displays, artifacts, and history. The centerpiece of the exhibit will be the belt-run boat engine shop machine which was donated to the museum by the Brinker family from Bellevue, Iowa.

Dragotta says though some pieces that inhabited the space before it was cleaned out in preparation for the construction were too popular to give up. So, you may recognize some popular artifacts and displays in the new exhibit.

“Some of this exhibit will see brand new things, but we are making sure to pay homage to a lot of the things that used to reside in this space like the pilot house, the log boiler.”

Dragotto says they would not have been able to get construction going with the exhibit without the volunteers who have helped clean out the space and get the artifacts ready to be displayed in the new space.

The ‘River of Innovation’ will be open Spring of 2020.

Cori Hanna

Today in Iowa reporter

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