After undergoing a multimillion-dollar revitalization funded entirely by anonymous donors, the Soldiers Memorial Military Museum is ready once more for visitors and is scheduled to reopen to the public Nov. 3.
Originally opened in downtown St. Louis on Memorial Day 1938, the classical style building with art deco flourishes is now a state-of-the-art museum facility with more than twice the exhibit space than before. Under the operational leadership of the Missouri Historical Society, Soldiers Memorial features two free exhibits: “St. Louis in Service” and “WWI: St. Louis and the Great War.”
Located on the main level of the building, “St. Louis in Service” provides a comprehensive look at American military history through the lens of St. Louis by showcasing the stories of area service members and delving into the city’s wartime history. Nearly 300 artifacts are on display—many for the first time—ranging from the colonial era to the War on Terror.
“WWI: St. Louis and the Great War” is the first temporary exhibit to occupy the new exhibit space on the lower level. Featuring stories from both the front lines and the home front, this exhibit commemorates the centennial of the end of World War I and St. Louis’s involvement in the conflict. More than 200 never-before-displayed artifacts—from a carrier pigeon message capsule, to a German gas mask, to a portable reed organ used during the war—help bring these stories to life.
Outside, the entrance-framing sculptures designed by Walker Hancock, a native St. Louisan and Monuments Man, once again stand tall and proud, freed from years of built-up coal dust and embedded dirt. They represent the essential qualities of service members and their families: courage, loyalty, sacrifice, and vision.
Across Chestnut Street, the Court of Honor has also been updated to include a reflecting pool and fountains representing the five branches of the US military. The World War II memorial can be found opposite the reflecting pool, and the Korea and Vietnam War memorials now have their own spaces along the walkway between Soldiers Memorial and the Court of Honor.
To people of all ages and backgrounds, the Missouri History Museum is a leading cultural institution and community resource that offers exhibitions, programming and collections to explore the history of the region in order to better understand the world we live in and build a stronger community for the future.
The Jefferson Memorial Building section of the Missouri History Museum was originally built as the first national monument to Thomas Jefferson, preceding the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. by more than 25 years. The museum now features special exhibits and St. Louis history galleries with interactive stations for children throughout.
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