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Unique "Oil Spill" Exhibit Opens in Iowa

June 29, 2010

DUBUQUE, Iowa - A brand-new exhibit at the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium was supposed to be filled with sharks, rays and other fish common to the Gulf of Mexico. Instead, it shows what the water looks like now, with millions of gallons of oil in it.

Museum Executive Director Jerry Enzler says they decided to change the exhibit to give visitors a better understanding and unique view of the disaster.

"The people who come in have been very, very complimentary; and we make sure we tell them right up front, we say, 'The exhibit today is maybe not what you expected. We are showing a lifeless Gulf because this is such an important story.'"

Enzler says the 40,000-gallon tank is filled with water but does not contain real oil. Instead, they added a substance that looks like oil to make it lifelike.

"You see coral reef on the bottom that's replicated, it's beautiful coral reef, three-dimensional. On the outside, say the viewing window of this aquarium, we have covered it with a graphic depiction of the oil as it seeps down."

He says the exhibit also features a huge map of the Mississippi River showing a graphic of the oil spill as the disaster grows.

The museum website is

Dick Layman, Public News Service - IA