The grand opening of the new National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium in Dubuque is scheduled for this Saturday. Jerry Enzler, the museum’s executive director, says it’s kind of like opening night for a Broadway play, as “all the fun things are coming in now.” Enzler says new exhibits are arriving every day, and one of the biggest is the river barge theater. He says it’s “as if a Mississippi River barge just crashed through the wall of the building, and burst its way in and said ‘Hey, I’m an exhibit, too.” The barge is 35 feet wide and 13 feet tall. Visitors walk into the barge and view a film that shows what it’s like to take grain down the river to New Orleans. Enzler says he’s already thinking about expansion of the museum. Enzler says he wants to make sure the museum is the preeminent place for those who want to explore the Mississippi’s past and its future. But there are no plans on the drawing board, yet, as Enzler says there’s already plenty to see and do at the museum. Enzler says the average length of stay at the museum is three hours. A 30-pound snapping turtle was released into the aquarium Monday, and a four-foot alligator will be featured in the Museum’s education center.
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