The Dubuque County Historical Society (DCHS) has its roots in the Richard Herrmann Museum of Natural History, established in the 1870s. The DCHS was formed in 1950 as a private, non-profit organization with a focus on oral and archival history; and it opened its first museum, the Mathias Ham House, in 1964. Over the past 25 years the DCHS has successfully raised $54 million to organize and expand its Mississippi River Museum into the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium. The Museum & Aquarium is accredited by the American Association of Museums — a distinction held by only 9 percent of American museums, was named an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution in August 2002, and was accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums in 2009.
The Woodward Riverfront Campus houses the William Woodward Mississippi River Center, Diamond Jo National River Center, the National Rivers Hall of Fame, the Fred W. Woodward Riverboat Museum, the Pfohl Boatyard, a wetland, and a refurbished train depot.