This year I have had an amazing experience being able to work with the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium. It's one of my very favorite places to visit and take my family for once in a lifetime experiences. My last big experience was popnology and before that the amazing new update to the Rivers to the Sea Exhibit (you can check that out below).

Well, according to a press release, the Dubuque County Historical Society and National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium have announced an exciting new phase in their ongoing mission to preserve and showcase the wonders of the Mississippi River. With the launch of Phase 1 of the Mississippi River Discovery Center renovation, set to begin in April 2024, visitors can look forward to a transformative experience that delves deeper into the river's rich history and the unique ecosystems it houses.

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A standout feature of this renovation is the expansion of the Flooded Forest exhibit, where North American River Otters reside. This expansion will nearly triple the otters' habitat, providing them with an outdoor space and updated surroundings. It's a fantastic opportunity for visitors to get even closer to these playful creatures and appreciate their unique environment.

But the transformation doesn't stop there. The outdoor aquarium, once home to River Otters, will now be remade as the "Driftless Area." This new exhibit promises to captivate audiences with a diverse array of birds, fish, and wildlife. It plans to shed light on the fascinating geography of the Driftless Area of the Tri-States.

Credit: Tom Ehlers Iowa's driftless region will offer the best fall foliage viewing around.
Credit: Tom Ehlers
Iowa's driftless region offers the best views around.
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Inside the Discovery Center, a dedicated area will focus on endangered species of the Mississippi River Watershed. Visitors will learn about the River Museum's conservation efforts, highlighting species such as freshwater mussels and the Wyoming Toad. Additionally, new conservation stories from the watershed will be featured, including the intriguing Mudpuppies and the elusive Massasauga rattlesnakes.

Credit: Tom Ehlers The Wyoming Toad, on display at the museum and aquarium.
Credit: Tom Ehlers
The Wyoming Toad, on display at the museum and aquarium.
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The project, which is expected to be completed by September 2024, is about more than just expanding exhibits. It's about telling the story of the Mississippi River in a fresh and engaging way, with a strong emphasis on habitats and culture. This project will allow the River Museum to showcase their efforts in saving imperiled species from extinction.

Credit: Katie Kotz Working in the river museums boat shop.
Credit: Katie Kotz
Working in the river museums boat shop.
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The Mississippi River Discovery Center renovation is part of the larger Preserve the Wonder Capital Campaign, which has raised over $9.3 million for various projects on the museum's campus. Contributions from the community and the upcoming GivingTuesday campaign on November 28 will play a crucial role in supporting this ambitious endeavor.

The river museum continues to stress the importance of this project in celebrating the region's rich history and educating and inspiring future generations. Each donation received is an investment in the community and in the preservation of this remarkable ecosystem.

Credit: National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium
Credit: National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium
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The Mississippi River Discovery Center renovation is an opportunity to celebrate the marvels of the Mississippi River and share its story with the world. As the project unfolds, it promises to be a source of inspiration and education for visitors from around the world, continuing to highlight the significance of this vital ecosystem and its unique history. To learn more about the project or contribute to its success, visit here.


For those of you looking to plan for a full year of fun, get 50 percent off memberships through December 31st. Give the gift of education and exploration this year!

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