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National Mississippi River Museum And Aquarium

What Is There To Do

National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium

The National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium gives you a unique opportunity to learn all about their historical collections, as well as their living collections – why? Because it’s both a museum AND an aquarium of course!

This family-friendly day out along the grand Mississippi River has two very different types of collections, both of which will fascinate and educate!

The historical collections feature items of the Dubuque County Historical Society, which record the people of the county, as well as the Mississippi River Valley. Kids might be amazed at how much interesting history there is right under their feet!

These collections also explore the rivers of the USA, and their connection to the people and the environment. Kids can explore Native American life, as well as early settlement, commerce, river art, conservation, and even music!

Then of course, there is the aquarium within the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium! Kids can come face to face with sweet creatures such as otters, creatures from the flooded forest regions, the bayou, and even catfish and gar within their largest freshwater habitat – the Main Channel.

These exhibits really let kids learn about the different environments there are within the area, and how different the creatures are within each one.

Great historic and ecological fun at this Mississippi museum and aquarium – what will you discover today!?

Keep an eye on changing exhibits so you don’t miss out!

The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium Campus

The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium is home to museum exhibits on the culture and history of America’s rivers. The campus also includes over a dozen aquariums featuring wildlife representative of that found in the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico and other river systems and deltas, including giant catfish, sturgeon, ducks, frogs, turtles, rays, octopus, river otters, and more. There are also outdoor exhibits, featuring river otters, a marsh, and large artifacts, such as boats, a blacksmith shop, a stream, and raptor aviaries including bald eagle.

Suzanne And Walter Scott Aquarium

Vladislav T. Jirousek/

Suzanne and Walter Scott Aquarium
Location Omahas Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, Omaha, NE 68108
Animal to See
Known For 70-Foot Shark Tunnel

The Suzanne and Walker Scott Aquarium makes its home nestled in the Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. It is one of the largest aquariums within a zoo in the world.

There are about 1,200,000 gallons of water within this aquarium and so many different species to explore. Many displays take over the aquarium, including the home of the giant pacific octopus.

Watch trained sea lions perform tricks or observe them in their natural habitats. There are penguins to be amused by and sharks to watch. A shark tunnel is also available where you can experience sharks swimming all the way around you in glorious reality.

Some sections showcase different regions, from temperate to polar and beyond. Jellyfish can be spotted swirling in beautiful colonies, and there are touch tanks, too, so you can get the chance to see what a stingray feels like.

Jude Speegle

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National Mississippi River Museum And Aquarium


The National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium, operated by the DUBUQUE COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY interprets both the cultural and environmental history of the MISSISSIPPI RIVER with a mission to preserve the history of the river and the river itself.

Architects plans for the proposed $25 million Mississippi River Discovery Center were unveiled to the public on January 19, 1998. Visitors could study Mississippi River wildlife using four aquariums up to 35 feet long and nine feet high and ten smaller aquariums. The “America’s River Project” was a combined effort of the Dubuque County Historical Society, City of Dubuque, and the DUBUQUE AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE. It was announced on January 23, 1998 that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service would help create exhibits.

In 2008 visitors could take a 90-minute Eco Cruise. While on the cruise aboard a pontoon-style boat, a Museum & Aquarium guide lead visitors to explore several aspects of the river from the backwaters to Catfish Creek. Visitors also learned about the natural and historic elements that make up the Mississippi River.

When the project was begun, one estimate suggested it could draw an estimated 176,000 additional tourists to the city with an economic impact of $128 million. In 2017 the museum had an average of 200,000 visitors annually and an operating budget of $7.3 million with 2,600 members.

Power Added To Early 1900s Dredge Paddlewheel

National Mississippi River Museum &  Aquarium opens new summer exhibition

In addition to the standard lighting and power installation, our work included theatrical lighting and controls along with many aquarium and special animal equipment installations. Emergency power and landscape lighting were included. Power for a hydraulic pump to rotate an early 1900s dredge paddlewheel was included.

Six large aquariums and many exhibits feature giant catfish, turtles, otters, ducks, frogs, reptiles and the history of Americas most famous river, the Mississippi River. Interactive exhibits and living history demonstrations bring this exciting river-front campus in Dubuque, Iowa, to life.


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National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium

Pavaphon Supanantananont/

National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium
Location 350 E 3rd St, Dubuque, IA 52001
Animal to See
Known For Extensive exhibits on rivers.

The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium is known for its extensive detail on the rivers of the United States. River ecosystems are essential to understand because they provide an integral service to any habitat.

Rivers provide drinking water to both people and animals. They also help with irrigation so that lands do not flood after heavy rains. Within them are whole ecosystems for various fish and aquatic plants and animals.

There are two buildings at this museum one focuses on the Mississippi River, and the other centers on the rest of the rivers and how they affect the country.

The many exhibits of this aquarium include:

  • Aviaries
  • Dubuque County Historical Society Case
  • Erosion Table
  • Iowa Marine Engine and Launch Works
  • Journey Theater
  • National Rivers Hall of Fame
  • Otter Habitat
  • Revealing the Real Julien Dubuque
  • River Alterations
  • Wetlands
  • William M. Black Dredge Boat

This aquarium has a vast amount of activities to do and plenty of exhibits to help educate you on river systems.

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New River Of Innovation Exhibit Opens At National Mississippi River Museum And Aquarium

The new John and Alice Butler River of Innovation Gallery is now open! Conlon was proud to partner with the Dubuque County Historical Society and the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium on their latest project. Erin Dragotto, Vice President of Development for the museum had this to say about Conlon at the ribbon cutting:

A big thank you to Paul Kalb and Joe Frommelt from Conlon Construction two of the best individuals that I have ever worked with on a project of this magnitude. These two and their team helped us run many traps and on occasion offered their design experience.If there is such a thing as a construction company providing a concierge service, Conlon is it. We would not be standing in this building or have this project without them.

Conlon Construction built the original building housing the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium and completed it in 2004. The project won an award from the Master Builders of Iowa that year. The Masters Award recognizes the exceptional efforts of a construction team in executing the process of completing a project. Such projects reflect good management skills, imagination, perseverance under unusual and challenging conditions, and/or innovative construction techniques.

The 3 Best Aquariums In Iowa

National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium’s New Exhibit – Thomas D. Mangelsen: A Life in the Wild
  • The 3 Best Aquariums in Iowa
  • Iowa is the birthplace of sliced bread, so nothing is more remarkable, hands down. The state is also known for its fields of corn. In 2019, Iowa produced around 2.58 billion bushels of corn. Iowa has its series of Great Lakes, so its no wonder this state would have magnificent aquariums to visit.

    The Great Lakes, also known as Okoboji, is a top vacation place. Big Spirit Lake, West Okoboji Lake, and East Okoboji Lake are the three biggest lakes. Many rivers also make their way through Iowa.

    The Mississippi River itself crosses through Iowa, so Iowa holds the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium. There are no other aquariums in Iowa, so we will look through some aquariums from neighboring states, Missouri and Nebraska.

    Now that we know what to expect, lets learn about the aquariums!

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    National Mississippi River Museum Reopens With Covid

    DUBUQUE, Iowa – The National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium is back in business after being closed for nearly two-months due to COVID-19.

    The museum reopened Saturday, as the Memorial Day holiday is typically one of their busiest weekends. Wendy Scardino, marketing director at the aquarium, said they hoped for a quick financial recovery beginning this week.

    “We anticipate having been closed that there will be a bump in attendance from folks not having anywhere to go,” said Scardino. “However we do anticipate those numbers to be well below our expectations.”

    The museum will limit attendance numbers in the museum by staggering entry times to 75 guests per half hour. Directional signs and arrows have been placed throughout the aquarium to encourage social distancing.

    As feelings of loneliness and boredom have grown common due in the recent weeks, Scardino said it is not only humans who have felt isolated due to the closure.

    “Our otters and our stingrays especially interact a lot with guests,” said Scardino. “And you can just tell that they have been more active because we were closed for two months and they only had access to a limited number of guests”

    Scardino said she hopes reopening the aquarium will give guests a sense of normalcy as we continue through the pandemic.

    Scardino suggests for those who may be anxious to be near any crowds, to visit the museum in the afternoon. As they typically see their largest attendance numbers in the morning.

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