DUBUQUE — The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium opened its $40 million expansion, the Diamond Jo National River Center on June 26, 2010. The expansion includes a new Gulf of Mexico exhibit. However, the Gulf exhibit did not open as a celebration of a vibrant, life-filled Gulf; instead it shows a Gulf empty and completely devoid of life.
A dramatic depiction of the effects of the oil spill is presented in the aquarium gallery next to the lifeless aquariums. Educational materials, hands-on activities, multi-media exhibits and information about how to get involved are also presented. The board and staff decided that opening a Gulf of Mexico exhibit at this time requires a compassionate and factual representation of the Gulf crisis.
The intent of the Gulf of Mexico exhibit is to draw a connection between the Mississippi River and the ocean and to bring to light the devastating effects of the oil spill. The exhibit, without fish, has the opportunity to make a bold statement related to the oil spill in the Gulf Coast by asking Museum & Aquarium visitors to imagine a lifeless Gulf. Read more here.