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Message in a Bottle: Mississippi River Debris Turned Art Exhibit

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Chad Pregracke, president of Living Lands and Waters, a river clean up and educational organization, has a different kind of project that's going on display at the Figge Art Museum this month.

For nearly 20 years, he’s been traveling along the Mississippi and other rivers around the United States to clean up waste. During that time span, he’s collected a lot of things, like bowling pins, bowling balls, claw foot tubs, and a hand full of messages in a bottle.

His collection of bottles, along with their notes and maps of where they were found and where they were sent from will be on display at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport this summer. During this Talk of Iowa conversation, he talks with host Charity Nebbe. 

"These are most of the bottles I've found," he says about the collection. "There are a few missing because I've sank a few boats on accident over the years." 

"I always pull out the notes and read them. Some of the messages are heavy, some of them aren't. Some of them aren't necessarily meant to be found." 

To end this hour of Talk of Iowa, Nebbe talks with Lynette Siegley, DNR coordinator for Project AWARE, a week-long river clean up that happens every year in early July. Elizabeth Reetz, resident archaeologist for the paddling trip, also joins the conversation. 

Lindsey Moon is IPR's Digital Producer
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa