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Mississippi Megalops - A Floating Chautauqua's video poster

Mississippi Megalops is an all-night floating Chautauqua! Performances, presentations, art & science all aboard an authentic riverboat! Read more

St. Paul, MN Art
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This project was successfully funded on May 2, 2011.

Mississippi Megalops is an all-night floating Chautauqua! Performances, presentations, art & science all aboard an authentic riverboat!

St. Paul, MN Art
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About this project

All Aboard the Mississippi Megalops!

Artists Colin Kloecker and Shanai Matteson of Works Progress are collaborating with artist Andy Sturdevant to present ‘Mississippi Megalops – A Floating Chautauqua’ at Northern Spark, an all-night nuit blanche art festival taking place from sunset to sunrise across the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St.Paul, Minnesota on June 4th & 5th, 2011.

Mississippi Megalops is an all-night program of sparkling performances, illustrated presentations and other works of artistic & scientific expression, presented aboard the authentic Jonathan Padelford sternwheeler paddle boat as it makes its way up and down the Mississippi River, illuminating the shores of St. Paul.

Public participants will be invited to join us on one of four excursions that will enrich the mind & delight the senses! Each excursion will feature a unique line-up of musical performances, scientific and historic presentations, art installations and other happenings created by artists, scientists, storytellers and performers.

A Laboratory; A Floating Chautauqua

Mississippi Megalops takes its name and inspiration from a houseboat built and operated by the University of Minnesota’s Zoological Survey in the early 1900s called MEGALOPS, and the Chautauqua Movement of the same period. 

The original MEGALOPS was a floating laboratory that endeavored to catalog the extent and distribution of aquatic life in the upper Mississippi River and tributaries. This scientific research project, while simple in its means and resources, created an important record of the biological diversity of Minnesota’s waterways. Now, over 100 years later, we seek to create a survey of our own, one that offers a snapshot of creative life in the Twin Cities and surrounding communities, as well as a creative record of our connection - cultural, scientific, and artistic - to the river that runs through it. 

The Chautauqua Movement, which brought entertainment and culture to rural communities across America, is a second point of inspiration for the Mississippi Megalops. The interdisciplinary and itinerant nature of “Circuit Chautauquas” and the community-minded, educational mission of these gatherings, are similar to our own.

Though our initial inspirations for this project are historic in nature, we are equally inspired by contemporary scientific research, especially that which aims to better understand human impact upon river life, as well as the work of artists and other cultural producers, who connect us to the river and each other in myriad ways.

You can read more about our inspirations, and the project as it develops, here.

Project Impacts

Our goal with this project is to create a unique and effervescent environment where science, art and history co-mingle, providing all of those involved (presenters, artists and audience alike) an opportunity to experience life on the river together.

Mississippi Megalops will be enjoyed by over 400 participants throughout the course of the night, and many more through the artwork, program catalog, and related media produced in conjunction with this project - including a limited edition Mississippi Megalops poster designed and screenprinted by Minneapolis-based artists Landland.

Support the Megalops

Our generous project partners at the Minnesota Historical SocietyMississippi River Fund and Northern have pitched in to cover the cost of renting the Jonathan Padelford riverboat for one night, but funds are still needed to rent equipment, pay all of our participating artists and presenters, create and print a program poster & catalog, and to document it all with professional quality photographs & video.

Your financial support for the Mississippi Megalops is much appreciated and will be put to good use!

Right now, making a pledge of $25 or is the only way to guarantee a seat aboard your choice of the Mississippi Megalops' four unique excursions! The boat sets out at 8 p.m., 11 p.m., 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. and each journey will be roughly 1.5 hours long. We will contact contributors as the project approaches with ticketing details.

More About Us

Artists Colin Kloecker and Shanai Matteson of Works Progress are collaborating with artist Andy Sturdevant to present 'Mississippi Megalops - A Floating Chautauqua' as part of the new Northern Spark festival.

Works Progress is a creative collective founded in 2009 in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St.Paul, Minnesota. They create multi-disciplinary public programs, art projects, exhibits and events that inspire, inform and connect, fostering new relationships that cross creative and cultural boundaries. Much of their work involves collaboration with other artists, as well as community and institutional partners, in an effort to engage public audiences with ideas and with one another.

Andy Sturdevant is a writer, artist and arts administrator living in South Minneapolis. He has written about art, history and culture for a variety of Twin Cities-based publications and websites, including, Rain Taxi, Art Review and Preview!, Mpls/St Paul, and His essays have also appeared in publications of the Walker Art Center and the Jerome Foundation. His collaborative and individual art-making practice is generally site-based, interactive, and dealing with relationships between place, history and mass culture.


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  • You selected
    Pledge $10 or more

    7 backers Limited (43 left of 50)

    A personal thank you card handwritten and sent from the banks of the Mississippi River + A shout out in the Works Progress newsletter

  • You selected
    Pledge $25 or more

    21 backers Limited (29 left of 50)

    The above + 1 reserved seat aboard the Mississippi Megalops + Limited Edition Megalops Souvenir Flag

  • You selected
    Pledge $50 or more

    25 backers Limited (25 left of 50)

    All of the above + 2 reserved seats aboard the Mississippi Megalops + Limited edition Megalops art print, designed, screenprinted, numbered & signed by Landland

  • You selected
    Pledge $75 or more

    2 backers Limited (23 left of 25)

    All of the above + 4 reserved seats aboard the Mississippi Megalops

  • You selected
    Pledge $100 or more

    5 backers Limited (10 left of 15)

    All of the above + Limited edition program catalog, numbered & autographed by participating artists + Your name listed in the catalog acknowledgments

  • You selected
    Pledge $250 or more

    0 backers Limited (10 left of 10)

    All of the above + Fried catfish dinner for you and a guest with Megalops programmers & artists

  • You selected
    Pledge $750 or more

    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    All of the above + Honorary Megalops Boat Captain Title, including Captain's costume rental of your choice

Funding period

- (38 days)