New River of Innovation Exhibit Opens at National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium

The new John and Alice Butler River of Innovation Gallery is now open! Conlon was proud to partner with the Dubuque County Historical Society and the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium on their latest project. Erin Dragotto, Vice President of Development for the museum had this to say about Conlon at the ribbon cutting:

“A big thank you to Paul Kalb and Joe Frommelt from Conlon Construction — two of the best individuals that I have ever worked with on a project of this magnitude. These two and their team helped us run many traps and on occasion offered their design experience.If there is such a thing as a construction company providing a concierge service, Conlon is it. We would not be standing in this building or have this project without them.”

Conlon Construction built the original building housing the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium and completed it in 2004. The project won an award from the Master Builders of Iowa that year. The Masters Award recognizes the exceptional efforts of a construction team in executing the process of completing a project. Such projects reflect good management skills, imagination, perseverance under unusual and challenging conditions, and/or innovative construction techniques.

The new River of Innovation exhibit features high-engagement, interactive spaces that reinforce river innovation themes as well as artifacts from the museum’s collections. The first third of the exhibit houses an 18th-century belt driven machine shop once operated by the Iowa Marine Engine & Launch Works. It has been painstakingly restored and the tool benches are on display as they were found with all original tools and artifacts intact.

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 houses 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.

“We believe this project is a wonderful bridge between the innovations of yesterday and the science, technology, engineering and math concepts needed for the future success of today’s youth,” John and Alice Butler said of the exhibit. “We are excited that our family can help to fund a project that will both educate and entertain guests and students for years to come while supporting the cultural vibrancy of this community.”

Belt driven machine clip