The National Eagle Center Kicks off Phase 1 of $27M Expansion, Unveils New Branding, Announces Major New Gifts & Showcases Spring Exhibit

by | Sep 27, 2021 | Press Releases

Center to Close for Renovations October 25, 2021, Until Spring 2022

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Wabasha, MN (Sept. 27, 2021) The National Eagle Center was joined by elected officials, project architect, supporters and community partners at a press conference on Monday, September 27th to unveil the new branding for the Center, and announce the kick-off of Phase I of the multi-year $27 million renovation and expansion along with major new gifts. In addition, officials announced the Center will close on October 25 until Spring 2022 to complete the Phase I renovations.

“This is a very exciting time for the National Eagle Center,” said Meg Gammage-Tucker, Ph.D., CFRE, CEO of the National Eagle Center. “We have a new brand identity and we are about to embark on our Phase I renovation and expansion which, in partnership with the City of Wabasha, will help us activate Main Street and continue to evolve our world-class facility to enhance our community and celebrate all things eagles. In addition, we have received $1 million gifts from long-time individual benefactors as well as from the Prairie Island Indian Community. We cannot thank them enough for their partnership and investment.”

Gammage-Tucker was joined by Wabasha Mayor Emily Durand, State Representative Barb Haley, Prairie Island Tribal Historic Preservation Compliance Officer, Franky Jacksonproject architect Bruce Cornwall, from LHB Architects, and exhibit benefactor Preston Cook who has committed his multi-million dollar 25,000 piece collection to the Center.

Phase I – Transforming & Activating Main Street

The event, which featured renderings of the upcoming construction project, shared the vision for the transformation of Main Street and the National Eagle Center. In addition to the activation of Main Street, Phase I will expand the National Eagle Center offerings to include museum-quality exhibits along with the development of an Amphitheater and outdoor program and exhibit space. JE Dunn will handle the construction management of the project.

“The eagerly awaited expansion of the National Eagle Center will enrich visitors’ understanding of the American cultural experience as represented through the image of the eagle,” Wabasha Mayor Emily Durand said. “This unbeatable connection of a richly engaging collection combined with live eagles along the natural habitat of the flourishing Mississippi River will be unforgettable for all who visit. The riverfront open space, amphitheater, and public dockage will help ensure our community gains resilience as we recover from a period of great uncertainty. Timing of the expansion couldn’t be better.”

Preston Cook Collection

Preston Cook, who committed his multi-million dollar 25,000 piece collection to the National Eagle Center in 2017, also participated in the press conference and talked about the genesis of his collection and search for a home. 

“I started my collection 55 years ago with the gold-plated brass eagle buttons from my Army uniform and there began my obsession with collecting all-things-eagles,” Cook said. “My search for a home for this collection took me all over the country until 20 years ago when I first visited Wabasha and the National Eagle Center. I was impressed with the enthusiasm of those involved with the Center as well as Wabasha’s community spirit and generosity. This magnificent, powerful, independent and strong bird represents America and I am excited to share my collection with the world starting next spring when we open the Preston Cook Collection at the National Eagle Center.”

Included in the 25,000 pieces of memorabilia are more than 65 distinct collections that include sheet music, advertisements, photographs, postcards, stamps, coins, and much more. The Preston Cook Collection will be a focal point of the grand reopening of the Center in the spring of 2022.

“As our new brand positioning says, it’s time to Soar Beyond, and that’s exactly what we intend to do at the National Eagle Center,” Gammage-Tucker said.

About the National Eagle Center 

The National Eagle Center is a world-class interpretive nonprofit, located on the banks of the Mississippi River in Wabasha, MN. Founded in 1989 by a group of volunteers, the Center has grown to the 15,000 square foot facility which was opened in partnership with the City of Wabasha in 2007. Guests to the Center can explore two floors of interactive exhibits as well as meet non-releasable bald eagles up close and view the many bald eagles that call the Upper Mississippi River Valley home. For more information visit

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Ed Hahn
Marketing Manager
Ph: 651-565-4989