Newsmakers, June 1, 2017

Air Date:
Heard On Newsmakers
Ed Hahn, Jon Swanson and Andrew Brunner
Ed Hahn, Jon Swanson and Andrew Brunner Hope Kirwan/WPR

The Mississippi River ties three destinations together that entertain and educate and are all a day trip away from most places in southwestern Wisconsin.

All three places have taken off within the last 15 years and have become important cornerstones of their community.

The National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium has undergone a $54 million expansion in the last 13 years. It attracts more than 200,000 visitors to a 10 acre site at the Port of Dubuque, Iowa’s oldest city. With more than 300 species of animals on display in aquariums, people can also tour an historic steam-powered dredge boat, learn more about Mark Twain or listen to calliope music made popular on river boats.

“The story of our rivers is the story of America,” according to assistant marketing manager Andrew Brunner. “That’s really what our facility tries to tell, is the story of those people that migrated to this area, settled along the Mississippi and all of America’s rivers.”

Maybe Picasso or Van Gogh is more your style. The Minnesota Marine Art Museum in Winona, Mn has been offering its own historic collection of water-inspired paintings from European and American artists dating to the 17th Century for 11 years. It is also rotating traveling exhibitions regularly and offers art education programs for all ages.

“We really look at great art inspired by water and we explore the ongoing relationship between people and water,” said curator Jon Swanson. “We had an exhibition on sailor’s tattoos looking at the iconography and the development of tattoos in North America.”

Just a half hour north of Winona sits a museum dedicated to the national symbol, the bald eagle. The National Eagle Center in Wabasha, Mn., opened in a new building ten years ago, the same year the bald eagle was removed from the endangered species list.

Last year, people from 115 countries visited the National Eagle Center and there are plans to expand the facility with the next five years. The Eagle Center features hands on and interactive displays including six rescued bald and golden eagles that people can get close to.

“I think most people are used to seeing them at a distance,” said marketing manager Ed Hahn. “To be literally four or five feet away from them is just awe-inspiring for a lot of people.”

Each museum is a member of the Blue Star Program which offers free admission to military families.

Episode Credits

  • Hope Kirwan Host
  • John Davis Producer
  • Ed Hahn Guest
  • Andrew Brunner Guest
  • Jon Swanson Guest

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