RiverWorks Discovery Opens Traveling Exhibit In Nola

RiverWorks Discovery debuted the organization’s interactive, traveling exhibit, A Journey of Exploration and Imagination on America’s Waterways, at its latest stop earlier this month at the Louisiana Children’s Museum (LCM) in New Orleans. RiverWorks Discovery held an opening reception at LCM September 6, with the exhibit officially opening to the public September 8.

The interactive exhibit’s stop in New Orleans, which was made possible through funded support from the Eugenie and Joseph Jones Family Foundation, will go through December 16. The foundation is named for Joseph Merrick Jones, founder of Canal Barge Company and the Jones Walker law firm, and his wife, Eugenie.

The traveling exhibit seeks to introduce children to the importance of commerce, culture and conservation on the nation’s inland waterways. The exhibit presents the river system as a highway and the most efficient means for moving products between coastal and inland ports, while also illustrating the huge role the cultural heritage of the rivers has played on the identity of the United States. And through the exhibit’s conversation focus, children are introduced to the importance of healthy river systems, wetlands and watershed ecosystems.

 Susan Jones Gundlach and Jimmy Gundlach represented the Eugenie and Joseph Jones Family Foundation at the opening reception. Susan Jones Gundlach’s father, Joseph, founded Canal Barge Company and the Jones Walker law firm.
Susan Jones Gundlach and Jimmy Gundlach represented the Eugenie and Joseph Jones Family Foundation at the opening reception. Susan Jones Gundlach’s father, Joseph, founded Canal Barge Company and the Jones Walker law firm. – photo by Frank McCormack

The exhibit in New Orleans features a theater, an interactive water table that simulates channelization and management of waterways, cultural displays, a simulated wheelhouse, and a dress-up station with personal flotation devices, boots, hardhats and safety glasses.

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Speaking at the opening reception, Errin Howard, director of RiverWorks Discovery, thanked the Eugenie and Joseph Jones Family Foundation for being a founding and continuing supporter of the exhibit, and for helping make the exhibit a success since it debuted in 2013. The exhibit has now traveled to about a dozen sites, Howard said. This is its second stop in New Orleans.
Howard also praised the companies that support RiverWorks Discovery’s programming.

“What I love about RiverWorks Discovery is that you’re competitors by day yet you support this program and this industry,” Howard said. “You come together for the future of this industry, and I just want to say thank you.”

Susan Jones Gundlach, daughter of Joseph Merrick Jones, said her family’s foundation has been an eager partner with RiverWorks Discovery.

“On behalf of the trustees of the Eugenie and Joseph Jones Family Foundation, we were so proud and happy to be able to make it possible for this exhibit to be here,” Gundlach said. “The exhibit is a wonderful opportunity for children to come and learn about the great rivers of America and their watershed.”

Additional field trip and exhibit sponsors include AccuTRANS, ADM/Artco, American Commercial Barge Line, Associated Terminals, Canal Barge Company, Cargill, CGB, Cooper Consolidated, Crescent Towing, Ingram Marine Group, Magnolia Fleet LLC, Mississippi Valley Trade & Transport Council, NOBRA Pilots, Octopus Towing, Port of New Orleans, Turn Services and Zito Companies.

Julia Bland, CEO of the Louisiana Children’s Museum, said the arrival of the RiverWorks Discovery exhibit comes at a significant time in the city’s history.

“We are extremely privileged to host the RiverWorks Discovery exhibit at the Louisiana Children’s Museum,” Bland said. “This exhibit’s visit is especially timely because of our celebration of New Orleans’ tricentennial. It aligns perfectly with the museum’s core education initiatives and will encourage visitors to explore the important role that the Mississippi River plays in our city’s history, ecology and economy.”

Reception attendees also heard from a trio of local, state and national leaders in attendance, all of whom stressed the importance of the river to the nation.

“I’m excited to be here because—and I’m a born and bred New Orleanian—but most people don’t realize or have an appreciation of just how important and valuable the river is to New Orleans,” said New Orleans City Councilman Jay Banks. “We would not have a New Orleans if it weren’t for where we are on the river. In 2018, our biggest industry is tourism, but trust me 300 years ago when New Orleans was founded there wasn’t much tourism. The river is what got us here.”

Mark Wright, a Louisiana state representative and southern region vice president for The American Waterways Operators, said it’s all about connecting kids to the river.

“This takes great steps toward educating kids on what’s behind [the levees] and why we need to support both the river as a natural resource itself and industries behind it,” Wright said.
Paul Rohde, midwest area vice president for Waterways Council Inc., praised the exhibit for helping children and adults alike realize how important river industries are to daily life.

“It really starts from the very beginning, kids, and understanding where stuff comes from,” Rohde said. “Cement, steel, electricity—we all use it every day, and it’s touched by barges. Having them understand that is the first part of getting them to appreciate it. And ultimately what I do is advocacy, talking to Congress and talking to the administration, making sure they understand and appreciate this national treasure we have in river transportation.”

RiverWorks Discovery is the educational effort of the National Rivers Hall of Fame and the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium.
The Louisiana Children’s Museum is located at 420 Julia Street, New Orleans, La., 70130.