• “The Beauty of the River Forever”

    Showcased the collections of Wayne and Edie Norman whom the Norman Changing Gallery is named for.

  • “Mark Twain and the Mississippi River”

    Featured works from the Smithsonian Institution, Fred Bentley, the Bissel Family and A.G. Edwards. In addition to the several pieces of art and photographs are various Twain artifacts including hand written notes, manuscripts, furniture and his first patented invention.


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  • “Lewis and Clark’s Excellent Adventure”

    Meriwether Lewis and William Clark led a fabled trip of discovery from 1804 to 1806. The National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium will transformed its Norman Gallery into an immersive Lewis & Clark exhibit The exhibit highlighted authentic Woodland and Plains artifacts from the 19th century including a spear and a headdress decorated with eagle feathers, quilled gloves, a woman’s dress, a doll, and catlinite pipes used for ceremonial events. Live animals include rattlesnakes in an aquarium with live prickly pear cactus, salmon, trout, jelly fish, flounder, rock fish, and star fish. The exhibit also included an animal which Lewis and Clark did not see, but were plentiful on the Pacific Coast – an octopus.


  • “Toadally Frogs”

    Took visitors into the world of frogs. More than 30 different species of frogs hopped their way into visitor’s hearts. The frogs came from all over the world: Australia, Asia, South and Central America, Madagascar, The Gulf Coast and The Mississippi River Valley. The exhibit also included a temporary display of the most famous frog of them all, “Kermit the Frog”, the original Jim Henson hand puppet, on loan from the Smithsonian Institution!

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  • “Catfish Planet”

    Catfish Planet walked visitors through the world of catfishes by breaking it down into a series of relatable topics. Using live animal displays and interactives that described Catfish Defense, Feeding, Reproduction, Camouflage, Habitat, Senses, Catfishes and People, and Conservation.

    The exhibit also discussed broader issues like water pollution, deforestation, and dams and their effect on these fishes. The exhibit also explored the effects of introduced species as it relates to catfish.

    The centerpiece of the exhibit was a giant catfish model large enough to allow visitors to walk inside a catfish and peer through its eyes and manipulate its “whiskers” called barbles. The giant catfish is now on permanent display in the River Plaza on the Museum & Aquarium campus.


  • “Venom”

    “Venom” explained the difference between poison and venom, educated visitors on the poisons in their home, and gave a brief history of poison and uses of poison in our world.

    Highlights of “Venom” included the use of manipulative cameras that allow visitors to zoom in on the animals in the exhibit and a crawl through rattlesnake exhibit that allowed visitors to get a “prey’s-eye view” of a timber rattlesnake. A mock kitchen cabinet, garage shelf and medicine cabinet display some of the harmful and sometimes deadly poisons in the home.

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  • Lizards on the Loose!

    “Lizards on the Loose!” featured 25 different types of lizards and focused on the amazing diversity and the unique adaptations lizards have developed to survive in their varied environments. This interactive exhibit taught visitors how lizards see each other; control their body temperature; what they eat; and how they use color for defense, mating and communication.

    In October 2009 a Komodo dragon, joined the “Lizards on the Loose” exhibit. The Komodo dragon, a monitor lizard, is the largest lizard still living in the world today.


  • “Women & Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America”

    The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium partnered with Clarke University are pleased to announce that “Women & Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America,” a traveling exhibition that featured the untold stories of the innovative, action-oriented women who played such a significant role in shaping the nation’s social and cultural landscape.

    “Women & Spirit” was a project of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), which toured the exhibition. LCWR is an association of leaders of congregations of Catholic women religious in the United States.

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  • In the Dark logo“In the Dark”

    In the Dark invited visitors to explore natural phenomena that exist with little or no light and to discover how light-loving species, like humans, adapt to darkness. This hands-on, interactive exhibit allowed visitors to experience environments that are void of light and to see how animals, plants and people have adapted to darkened conditions throughout history.

  • “The Animals of Halloween”

    As a limited-time extension of the popular “In the Dark” exhibit, the Museum & Aquarium added more animals that go “Bump!” in the night for an “Animals of Halloween” exhibition. The Animals of Halloween.

    A few of our favorite spooky, scary and creepy-crawly critters have historic ties to Halloween superstitions, many of which continue today and have become tradition to the holiday’s celebrations and stories.

    Visitors had the opportunity to get close to and even meet some creepy critters while they learned more about the facts and fictions of those animals commonly connected to Halloween, and about the origins of our modern-day Halloween traditions.

    The Museum & Aquarium gathered some of the most popular (or unpopular) creatures of the night for this exhibit including the African Silky Rat and Domestic Mice, Tarantula, Giant Centipede, Honduran Milk Snake, Marine Toad, Great Horned Owl, Frogfish, Madagascan Hissing Cockroach, Beetle Larvae, Carnivorous Plants, and Black Cats.


  • Amazon2“Amazon Voyage: Vicious Fishes & Other Riches”

    Amazon Voyage took visitors on a fascinating voyage down the world’s largest and most biologically diverse river and meet amazing creatures—piranhas, anacondas, electric eels, stingrays, and more. The exhibit mixed real scientific research, light humor, and whimsical artwork into a fun, interactive experience for visitors of all ages.

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  • “Turtles: Secrets of the Shell”

    ”Turtles: Secrets of the Shell” exhibit included live animal displays, audiovisual presentations, informational panels, hands-on experiential components, and educator led programs.

    With over 100 different species and 220 individual turtles represented throughout the run of the exhibit, Museum officials believe Turtles: Secrets of the Shell was the most diverse and largest collection of turtles on public exhibit anywhere in the world.


  • “Battle for the Mississippi: Key to Victory in the Civil War”

    “Battle for the Mississippi: Key to Victory in the Civil War” put a spotlight on the integral role the Mississippi River played in this important time in America’s history. The exhibit included a museum-quality, life-size figure of President Lincoln with audio messages of his comments and writings, a recreated ironclad warship, reproduction cannon, and dioramas and images of the siege of Vicksburg. Several Civil War artifacts, including Dubuquer Andrew Young McDonald’s Civil War uniform coat, were on display.

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  • “Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition”

    Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition took guests on a journey back in time to experience the legend of Titanic like never before. The galleries in this fascinating Exhibition featured real artifacts recovered from the ocean floor along with room re-creations and personal stories. Engineering, physics and social studies were all addressed as visitors explored the science of Titanic.

    On April 15, 1912, Titanic, the world’s largest Ship, sank after colliding with an iceberg claiming more than 1,500 lives and subsequently altering the world’s confidence in modern technology. 103 years later, the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium paid tribute to the tragedy which continues to resonate through Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, where more than 150 legendary artifacts conserved from the Ship’s debris field were showcased offering visitors a poignant look at this iconic Ship and its passengers.

    The Exhibition was designed with a focus on the legendary RMS Titanic’s compelling human stories as best told through over 150 authentic artifacts and extensive room re-creations. Perfume from a maker who was traveling to New York to sell his samples, china etched with the logo of the elite White Star Line, even a pair of almost perfectly preserved men’s dress shoes — these and many other authentic objects offered haunting, emotional connections to lives abruptly ended or forever altered.

    Visitors were quickly drawn back in time to 1912 upon entrance, as each received a replica boarding pass of an actual passenger aboard Titanic. They then began their chronological journey through Titanic‘s life, moving through the Ship’s construction, to life on board, to the ill-fated sinking and amazing artifact rescue efforts. They marveled at the re-created First and Third class cabins, and pressed their palms against an iceberg while learning of countless stories of heroism and humanity. In the “Memorial Gallery” guests took their boarding pass to the memorial wall and discovered whether their passenger and traveling companions survived or perished.

  • “50 Greatest Photographs of National Geographic”

    The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium hosted the traveling exhibition 50 Greatest Photographs of National Geographic, which showcased some of National Geographic’s most compelling photographs. From Steve McCurry’s unforgettable Afghan girl to Nick Nichols’ iconic image of Jane Goodall and chimpanzee to Thomas Abercrombie’s never-before-seen view of Mecca, the exhibition included some of National Geographic magazine’s most-remembered and celebrated photographs from its more than 120-year history.

    In addition to seeing the photographs as they appeared in the magazine, visitors to the exhibition learned the stories behind the photos and more about the photographers themselves. For some images, visitors were able to see the “near frames” taken by the photographer: the sequence of images made in the field before and after the perfect shot. The exhibition is based on the popular iPad app released by National Geographic in 2011 and featured by iTunes as an iPad “App of the Week.”

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    “Sherlock Holmes and the Clocktower Mystery”

    A terrible crime has been committed and Victorian London’s most celebrated detective needs your help to find out “whodunit”! “Sherlock Holmes and the Clocktower Mystery” opened January 16, 2016 at the  Museum & Aquarium. This interactive, wildly entertaining and very clever murder-mystery tested guests’ powers of observation and deductive reasoning.

    The “Clocktower Mystery” was presented in eight chapters, each representing a different sequential location. Detective guides containing a map and space to record clues and suspects were given to each visitor. As visitors enter the exhibit, they found themselves transported back in time. The sights, sounds and smells of turn-of-the-century London greeted them at every turn. The first locale was the clocktower, where a murder has taken place. The other seven sets that comprised the exhibit ranged from the clocktower to a seamy dock-side garret. While walking through the scenes, visitors were given clues to the mystery surrounding the murder. These clues-carefully placed as physical evidence among the many period objects in the rooms- were handwritten police reports, overheard sound tracks of interviews, printed summaries of the events and even tell-tale odors. Each scene was laden with clues and “red herrings”.

    Once visitors felt that they have the name of the murderer or had reached the final chapter, they found themselves at the door that leads to a study. In the study, there was an interactive consultation with one of the characters of the story (who is played by a live actor). Visitors were questioned about their conclusions, and the mystery was solved in a dramatic finale.

    Sponsored by a City of Dubuque Arts & Culture Grant

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    “Snakes, Rattles, and Holes”

    Visitors to the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium discovered what it would be like to walk inside a snake. A larger-than-life replica of a snake skull greeted visitors with open jaws welcoming them to explore to world of “Snakes, Rattles, and Holes.” The 10-foot tall and 70-foot long replica snake skeleton, hands-on activities, and live animal displays shed light on some of the most misunderstood creatures in the world…snakes.

    “Snakes, Rattles, and Holes” was a traveling exhibit developed by Purdue University to educate people about snakes and their important role in nature. It is now owned by the Dallas County Conservation Board. In addition to the 70-foot skeleton replica, the display included numerous interpretive panels that explain the anatomy, senses, habitat, and behavior of snakes. Several live snakes were also exhibited.

DinosaursDinosaurs Unearthed

Dinosaurs may be notorious for their sheer size and ferocious reputation, but it’s their softer, feathered side that turned heads at the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium. Life-sized animatronic dinosaurs, along with stunning fossil and skeleton specimens, took center stage at Dinosaurs Unearthed– a captivating exhibition where guests experienced an in-depth look at dinosaurs from across Asia and North America.
Dinosaurs Unearthedis a 6,000-square-foot exhibit featuring five feathered animatronic dinosaurs and one animatronic primitive bird, offering a dynamic visual representation of prehistoric feathered creatures. For many, the feathered Tyrannosaurus rex juvenile was the most incredible dinosaur at the exhibition. Long considered a reptilian dinosaur in appearance, scientists now believe the predator may have been covered in protofeathers from the time of its hatching through adolescence. The experience also featured a collection of real fossils, including anOviraptor egg,Mosasaur. Spinosaur teeth and the crowd favorite, coprolite, better known as dinosaur poop.
Guests saw firsthand the fossil evidence that led scientists to believe that dinosaurs are the ancestors of modern birds, not reptiles as previously thought. Paleontologists have discovered that feathers first served as a means of warmth or display for some dinosaur species and later evolved to the extent that flight was possible. Of the fifteen total animatronic dinosaurs, five feathered species and one primitive bird offered a visual representation of feathered dinosaurs.

Guests also experienced hands-on learning with interactive stations that explored dinosaur sounds, anatomy, and digestion. The kid’s dig area offered an immersive way for amateur paleontologists to make their own fossil discoveries. An interactive console allowed guests to control animatronic dinosaur movement and the roaring voice of the life-sizeStegosaurus. Each of the lifelike animatronic dinosaurs was custom designed and handcrafted forDinosaurs Unearthed by a team of paleo-artists using the best available data from paleontologists. Accurate to how scientists believe each dinosaur looked and sounded, the animatronic dinosaurs were developed using technology that ensures smooth, lifelike motion.

Dinosaurs Unearthed was an experience that inspired curiosity in guests and captured the human fascination with dinosaurs at an exciting time in history. In what is being referred to as the second ‘Golden Age’ of dinosaur discovery, paleontologists are uncovering and identifying new species at an unprecedented rate. These new discoveries are continually challenging common understanding and this exhibition sought to bring new information about the prehistoric past to light.

Dinosaurs Unearthed was sponsored by American Trust & Savings Bank with support from KWWL, Radio Dubuque, Diamond Jo Casino, Telegraph Herald, and Prudential.