Enter your search term and press enter. Press Esc or X to close.


National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium Wins 2021 AASLH Award of Excellence

NASHVILLE, TN—June 3, 2021—The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) proudly announces that the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium (River Museum) is the recipient of an Award of Excellence for its Iowa Marine Engine & Launch Works Exhibit within its new River of Innovation Gallery. The AASLH Leadership in History Awards, now in its 76th year, is the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history.

The Iowa Marine Engine & Launch Works Exhibit, under the co-direction and vision of Cristin Waterbury, Director of Curatorial Services, and Erin Dragotto, VP of Development, is comprised of a 19th Century belt-driven machine shop. It is a time capsule of Iowa history that lay dormant in Bellevue, Iowa, for 100 years. In 2013, the shop, and all its contents, were donated to the River Museum.

In 2017, Waterbury and Dragotto began their visioning process to create a dynamic grouping of exhibits with the fully operational machine shop at the center. The vision included creation of immersive learning experiences where history and STEM intersect and ignite the next generation of makers, tinkers, and innovators. In late 2018, more than 9,000 tools, molds, and artifacts were moved, cleaned, inventoried, and accessioned into collections. Over the course of 18 months, the exhibit was installed, and today the River Museum stands ready to open the full 9,000-square-foot River of Innovation Gallery on June 11.

This year, AASLH is proud to confer thirty-eight national awards honoring people, projects, exhibits, and publications. The winners represent the best in the field and provide leadership for the future of state and local history.

The AASLH awards program was initiated in 1945 to establish and encourage standards of excellence in the collection, preservation, and interpretation of state and local history throughout the United States. The AASLH Leadership in History Awards not only honor significant achievement in the field of state and local history, but also bring public recognition of the opportunities for small and large organizations, institutions, and programs to make contributions in this arena. For more information about the Leadership in History Awards, contact AASLH at 615-320-3203, or go to

The mission of the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium is to inspire stewardship by creating educational experiences where history and rivers come alive. That mission is accomplished through scholarly research, preservation of material culture, and the presentation of contemporary and purposeful educational exhibits, programs, and publications.

The American Association for State and Local History is a not-for-profit professional organization of individuals and institutions working to preserve and promote history. From its headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee, AASLH provides leadership, service, and support for its members who preserve and interpret state and local history in order to make the past more meaningful to all people. AASLH publishes books, technical publications, a quarterly magazine, and maintains numerous affinity communities and committees serving a broad range of constituents across the historical community. The association also sponsors an annual meeting, regional and national training in-person workshops, and online training.

Posted by Wendy Scardino at 12:06 PM