Dubuque museum to expand with outdoor plaza - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque museum to expand with outdoor plaza

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- The National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium in Dubuque is expanding. After the Diamond Jo Casino moved to it's new location, the museum purchased the old Diamond Jo Property. A new grant will connect the Port of Dubuque.

It's a typical Saturday at Ice Fest in Dubuque. The museum and aquarium is packed with visitors, who get a little extra this trip.

"This is our second weekend of Ice Fest it's three weekends in January. This weekend we're doing ice carving demonstrations, ice sculptures and ice harvesting as well," said John Sutter, marketing director at the museum.

And as people watch ice harvesting, they can't help but notice the expansion happening right next door.

"We're expanding into the old Diamond Jo building with the Rivers to the Sea Galleries. So in-between the two buildings we're gonna have a river plaza," said Sutter.

It's a part a $1.8 million expansion that will connect the museum and aquarium to the new Great River Center. Wednesday, Vision Iowa awarded a $1.23 million grant to the museum. It will support the development of an outdoor plaza between the two.

"We'll have a living stream, some pavilions and some river front amenities," said Sutter.

The old Diamond Jo building has already been cleared out for the new center, including raising the roof to make room for a RiverMax Theater.

"It'll be a 3D/4D theater so it'll be 3D images on the screen. And then your seat will rattle and shake when you're watching the movie, you'll get splash in the face with some water, you'll feel wind, you'll smell things so it'll really be an interactive experience," said Sutter.

It's all a part of a larger project that will make the Port of Dubuque a place to visit year round.

"We've really, in the last few years, grown as a tourism destination and think this will definitely put us on a region map as a destinations now with several offerings lots of different age groups," said Sutter.

The outdoor plaza is scheduled to open in 2011. The Great River Center should be open in June.

Online Reporter: Lauren Squires

Follow Lauren on Twitter.

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