The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium will be temporarily closing the Fred W. Woodward Riverboat Museum building, located at its Port of Dubuque campus, on February 19 to make way for a new permanent exhibit, River of Innovation.
The building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was originally built in 1901 by the Chicago, Burlington, and Northern Railroad. It later housed offices for the Dubuque Boat and Boiler Works from 1952 to 1972. The property was eventually acquired, with significant support from local government and the local business community, by the Dubuque County Historical Society, and opened as the Fred W. Woodward Riverboat Museum in 1982. This will mark the first closure and renovation of the space since 2010.
River of Innovation aims to inspire the next generation of river explorers and will be comprised of a 19th century belt-driven machine shop, a series of hands-on exhibits, and maker space. These elements will be combined with educational components to form a cohesive and immersive set of experiences for visitors and learners while balancing the historical, cultural, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) concentrations.
Renovations of the Fred W. Woodward Riverboat Museum building will likely take a year and a half, with more information on plans for the space available in late summer of this year. In honor of the impending renovations, the Museum & Aquarium is running a photo contest, encouraging new and past visitors alike to share their favorite Fred W. Woodward Riverboat Museum exhibits and memories on the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter feeds with #museummemories as an identifier. Five winners will be selected on February 19 to receive four passes to the Museum & Aquarium for their next visit.