International Game Fish Association museum to close in Dania Beach

The International Game Fish Association at I-95 and Griffin Road in Dania Beach won’t have a museum for much longer.

Most of the artwork, fish aquariums, and other exhibits displayed on the building’s first floor will be relocated to a new wildlife museum and aquarium in Springfield, Missouri, operated by the Johnny Morris Foundation, according to IGFA officials.

Morris, who founded the enormously successful Bass Pro Shops chain of outdoors stores — including the sprawling facility next door to the IGFA — is a Trustee Emeritus of the fishing organization and owns the land where its headquarters stands.

Instead of a Hall of Fame and Museum, the IGFA’s first floor will be converted into a new conservation and events center operated by Bass Pro Shops, according to IGFA development director Eric Combast. The building would continue as IGFA world headquarters, housing all recreational fishing records and a research library on its second floor.

“This gets IGFA out of the attraction business to focus on our core programs such as conservation, education, world records and history,” Combast said.

There’s no exact date for the transition; Combast said the time line would be announced in mid-April. Meanwhile, the museum will operate under normal hours and admission fees.

Founded in 1939, the IGFA is best known for maintaining worldwide game fish records in saltwater, freshwater, fly fishing and junior angler categories. However, the nonprofit has ramped up its conservation programs in the past decade, launching the Great Marlin Race — one of the world’s largest billfish tagging programs — as well as lobbying for protection of forage fish, and conducting children’s fishing camps and adult angling seminars.

Since moving into its Dania Beach headquarters in the mid-1990s, IGFA has lent its first floor to fishing-club meetings, scientific symposiums, wedding receptions and many other events. Combast said current capacity is about 300, but that should increase with the planned renovations.