Documentary Celebrating the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area Features La Crosse Map Artist!


Who knew that a 72 mile section of the Mississippi River that flows through the Twin Cities is home to the Mississippi National River & Recreation Area (MNRRA) National Park Unit… the first and only national park unit along the Mississippi River?

And who knew that local map artist, Lisa Middleton, would see several of her historic maps featured on the big screen… again… in a new documentary to profile the national park unit?

Lisa Middleton will exhibit a large collection of historic, hand-painted Mississippi River maps at the EDINA ART FAIR on June 3-5, and during ARTSPIRE in downtown La Crosse, Wisconsin, on June 11.

unframed ribbon mapThe Friends of the Mississippi River ( are on a mission to raise the profile of the first National Park on the Mississippi River. A new 30-minute documentary, titled “REBIRTH”, and narrated by MPR’s Steven Seel is being released to celebrate the National Park Service Centennial. While many folks have spent a great deal of time along the Mississippi River, most are unaware of its national park status, or the story of citizen advocacy behind its creation. REBIRTH” will air on TPT, the Twin Cities public station, Sunday, May 8 and 15, with subsequent online release .

Many river lovers will immediately recognize that the film features hand-painted historic maps by La Crosse map artist, Lisa Middleton. Co-producer, John Kaul discovered Lisa Middleton’s historic maps in Naples, Florida.

“I knew immediately that Lisa Middleton’s historic maps were exactly what I wanted for the documentary,” John Kaul, co-Producer of REBIRTH commented. “They are beautiful maps that make history POP. If every child had access to these beautiful historic maps, history might become a lot more exciting.”

lisa art leader focus

“I may not be in the movies,” Middleton observes, “but my map paintings are! It’s fun to see what role they will play… one producer gave me 24 hours to Fed Ex a map in three versions.. each representing the deterioration of passing time. In the movie, the map represented a man’s journey through life, and on one occasion it fluttered out of his hands while canoeing. He had to rescue it to save his dream.”

“My whole career developed because a woman in Louisiana offered me her collection of 7 historic river maps,” Lisa noted. “She hoped maybe I could ‘do something’ with them. I have since collected many more and will offer both original historic map paintings and prints for purchase during the exhibits. I’ve collected and painted some 130 historic and custom designed maps in the past few years. Most can be previewed online at Both shows will feature historic maps of the Upper Midwest and many of my new custom-designed maps.”

Click link to see online version of REBIRTH:


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