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Museum at the Gateway Arch

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Museum concept entrance
Museum concept exterior Museum concept interior

The museum and visitors center expansion at the Arch is under construction and will open in July 2018, but you can still visit the Arch and ride to the top until then. A new glass entrance to the visitor center and museum below the Gateway Arch will face the Old Courthouse and Downtown St. Louis, bringing natural daylight underground, bringing the Gateway Arch closer to the city than ever before. Without a single stair step, visitors will easily enter a light-filled, climate-controlled plaza, where they can enjoy views of the Old Courthouse and Downtown St. Louis.

On the mezzanine level, a terrazzo floor will display a map of westward trails from St. Louis and other cities to trace our forefathers’ journeys to the west.

Under the Arch, the new museum will describe westward expansion of the United States with new, more inclusive narratives with a focus on St. Louis’ role in this era of our country's history. Interactive story galleries guide visitors through time, from the mid-1600’s to the present. The new expansion will include these galleries: Colonial St. Louis, Jefferson’s Vision, Manifest Destiny, The Riverfront Era, New Frontiers, and Building the Gateway Arch. Locals and visitors alike will be able to learn about this time period in American history and appreciate the monument representing those stories.

In the tram lobby, a 100-foot-wide media wall will show videos of the building of the Gateway Arch and scenes of American history and innovation, which are symbolized in the Gateway Arch.

COMING JULY 2018
 

Colonial St. Louis

Discover the indigenous and Creole culture of St. Louis before the Louisiana Purchase. French merchant Pierre Laclede and Auguste Chouteau selected an ideal site to build a commercial village, which they named St. Louis. Near the confluence of the Missouri and the Mississippi, St Louis became a hub for trade with regional American Indian tribes. French officials, Spanish administrators, and entrepreneurial citizens arrived and built the village into a significant trading post and the political capital of the region. St. Louis quickly became an affluent and cultured place due to its natural advantages and the people who came here to make their fortunes.

Jefferson’s Vision

St. Louis shaped the West. President Thomas Jefferson knew that the Spanish and British had mapped much of the Pacific Coast and Canada. The Lewis and Clark Expedition was part of Jefferson’s vision for the United States and the ongoing struggle among nations for supremacy in North America. In 1803, Jefferson asked Meriwether Lewis to lead this critical mission. In May 1804, Lewis, Clark, and a crew of about 50 set out from the St. Louis area. They returned to St. Louis in September 1806. More would go west to from St. Louis to trade and explore, shaping the future of the continent.

Manifest Destiny

In the mid-1800s, many Americans believed the United States had a God-given right—a “manifest destiny”—to expand. By war or by treaty, the United States was determined to move west. After the U.S. annexed Texas, Mexico and the U.S. continued to dispute the border, provoking a war. Settlers lived with and conflicted with indigenous people. By 1848 the map of the United Stated looked much like a map of today – the U.S. extended from the east coast to California.

The Riverfront Era

In 1817, the first steamboat to arrive in St. Louis changed the city forever. Steamboats made the Missouri River a gateway to the West. During the 1840s and 1850s, the St. Louis levee bustled with intense daily activity. Hundreds of boats moored there each year. The city made a fortune on fees charged at the port. The Port of St. Louis was important as a Midwest distribution point for goods from other parts of the United States and for international imports, facilitating and fueling westward expansion.

New Frontiers

St. Louis began as a center of trade on waterways, but in the late 1840s it became a manufacturing city. By the 1870s St. Louis ranked with the top cities in the nation as a center of industrial might. Rails sent manufactured goods west, creating an American metropolis.

What was the American West really like during the 19th century? The mythic West has become better known around the world than the actual history and events of the period. Explore how people settled and lived in the West, the myths that became the West’s cultural legacy, and how industrial innovation changed St. Louis and the nation.

Building the Dream

By the 1930s, railroads absorbed a large share of the freight once shipped by river and businesses relocated from the riverfront. Two years after World War II, the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Association sponsored an architectural competition to revive the riverfront. Learn how the Gateway Arch became a reality. When Eero Saarinen’s design was chosen, no one had ever built anything like it. Discover the innovative builders who created the monument.

Keystone - A replica of the final section placed in the nation’s tallest monument, the keystone will provide an accessible experience for everyone. Webcams at the top of the Arch will give visitors a live view in the replica’s windows.

Keystone - A replica of the final section placed in the nation’s tallest monument, the keystone will provide an accessible experience for everyone. Webcams at the top of the Arch will give visitors a live view in the replica’s windows.

Heading West - Visitors entering the museum at the Gateway Arch will be greeted by seven monumental video screens that will show scenes of American Indian culture, overlanders on historic trails, amazing landscapes, and more.

Heading West - Visitors entering the museum at the Gateway Arch will be greeted by seven monumental video screens that will show scenes of American Indian culture, overlanders on historic trails, amazing landscapes, and more.

Video Wall - In the tram lobby, the video wall is a 100 ft. wide wall of monitors showing videos of the building of the Gateway Arch and scenes of American history and innovation, which are embodied in the Gateway Arch’s symbolism.

Video Wall - In the tram lobby, the video wall is a 100 ft. wide wall of monitors showing videos of the building of the Gateway Arch and scenes of American history and innovation, which are embodied in the Gateway Arch’s symbolism.