Since the opening of the Iowa Marine Engine & Launch Works within the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium last fall, the organization worked tirelessly to complete the final two-thirds of the John and Alice Butler River of Innovation Gallery. Named after lead donors John and Alice Butler, River of Innovation’s public grand opening took place the weekend of June 11-13, 2021.
Building on the River Museum’s abundant historical, conservation, and science connections, the second third of River of Innovation features high-engagement interactive exhibits that reinforce river innovation themes as well as artifacts from the museum’s collections. Categories for the interactives include energy and motion, vehicles and cargo, tools and machines, and the changing river.
The final third of River of Innovation will house a makerspace featuring multidisciplinary projects that tie the key River Museum concepts of history, science, and conservation together. As part of the exhibit opening preparations, the River Museum was able to hire an Innovation and MakerSpace Coordinator to develop curriculum and engaging projects for the space. Mari Oates joined the River Museum in February of 2021 and came most recently from the Shedd Aquarium where she served as a Learning Specialist with the Teen Learning Lab.