Renovated museum opens as part of $380M Gateway Arch project
By JIM SALTER
The revitalized Gateway Arch National Park was dedicated recently, the culmination of a $380 million public-private partnership that Missouri political leaders see as a template for the future of the national park system.
Several hundred people stood in steamy heat for a ceremony in the shadow of the 630-foot-tall monument to westward expansion that sits along the Mississippi River in downtown St. Louis.
The five-year project was the first major renovation since the Arch opened in 1965. It included a $176 million remaking of the sprawling underground museum that sits beneath the Arch, a sprucing up of the grounds around the monument and development of a grassy park built over nearby Interstate 44 to eliminate a disconnect that made it difficult and treacherous for pedestrians to move between the area around the Arch and the rest of downtown.
The rebuilt museum is much larger than the previous one that opened in 1976 – 46,000 square feet were added. It features a curved glass entrance cut into the ground beneath the Arch. A map on the floor shows the routes followed by pioneers as they moved westward. Another part of the museum tells the history of St. Louis.
Admission to the new museum, like the old one, is free. There is a fee for rides on a tram to the top of the Arch, which has been among the most popular attractions in St. Louis since it opened, drawing more than 130 million visitors.