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Mixing Oil and Water: Naturalizing Offshore Oil Platforms in Gulf Coast Aquariums

Abstract

On 26 June 2010, the brand new Gulf of Mexico exhibit at the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium in Dubuque, Iowa opened devoid of life. The tanks were purposefully left empty, rather than showing the vibrant aquatic life of the Gulf, to highlight the oil spill associated with BP's Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling incident earlier in 2010. According to the museum's press release, the museum wanted

to open a Gulf exhibit recognizing the crisis that is happening on the Gulf Coast … The exhibit, without fish, now has the opportunity to make a bold statement related to the oil spill in the Gulf Coast by asking Museum & Aquarium visitors to imagine a lifeless Gulf.1

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Robert Gramling and William Freudenburg , “Attitudes toward Offshore Oil Development: A Summary of Current Evidence,” Ocean & Coastal Management, 49 (2006), 442–61

Leslie Adelman , John H. Falk , and Sylvia James , “Impact of National Aquarium in Baltimore on Visitors’ Conservation Attitudes, Behavior, and Knowledge,” Curator, 43 (2000), 3366

John H. Falk , Martin Storksdieck , and Lynn D. Dierking , “Investigating Public Science Interest and Understanding: Evidence for the Importance of Free-Choice Learning,” Public Understanding of Science, 16 (2007), 455–69

John H. Falk and Leslie M. Adelman , “Investigating the Impact of Prior Knowledge and Interest on Aquarium Visitor Learning,” Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 40 (2003), 163–76

Susan Macdonald and Roger Silverstone , “Science on Display: The Representation of Scientific Controversy in Museum Exhibitions,” Public Understanding of Science, 1 (1992), 6987

Garry C. Gray and Victoria Bishop Zendzia , “Organizational Self-Censorship: Corporate Sponsorship, Nonprofit Funding, and the Educational Experience,” Canadian Sociological Association/La Société canadienne de sociologie, 46 (2009), 161–77

Dolly Jørgensen , “An Oasis in a Watery Desert? Discourses on an Industrial Ecosystem in the Gulf of Mexico Rigs-to-Reefs Program,” History and Technology, 25 (2009), 343–64

Donna Schroeder and Milton Love , “Ecological and Political Issues Surrounding Decommissioning of Offshore Oil Facilities in the Southern California Bight,” Ocean and Coastal Management, 47 (2004), 2148

T. A. Villareal , “Petroleum Production Platforms as Sites for the Expansion of Ciguatera in the Northwestern Gulf of Mexico,” Harmful Algae, 6 (2007), 253–59

Daniel Sheehy and Susan Vik , “The Role of Constructed Reefs in Non-indigenous Species Introductions and Range Expansions,” Ecological Engineering, 36 (2010), 111

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Journal of American Studies
  • ISSN: 0021-8758
  • EISSN: 1469-5154
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-american-studies
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