St Louis, MO, USA — CityArchRiver project partners and area leaders gathered at the future site of the Gateway Arch entrance April 29 to celebrate the groundbreaking of the museum and visitor center renovation. Speakers at the event commended the beginning of construction on the expanded visitor center and reimagined museum at the Arch as a major milestone for one of the largest public-private investments in the region’s history.
“The commitment and financial support for this project rank among the largest acts of private philanthropy in the history of the national park system,” said Peggy O’Dell, deputy director of the National Park Service. “Great partnerships make great things possible. On behalf of the National Park Service, I thank our partners for helping create a project that ensures we can continue to tell our stories including St. Louis’ remarkable role in building this nation.”
The Gateway Arch Museum and Visitor Center Renovation is one of the largest components of the $380 million overall CityArchRiver project and aims to redesign the museum and expand the visitor center by 46,000 square feet. The museum will house new exhibits that tell the story of westward expansion and St. Louis in new, interactive and engaging ways. The visitor center will bring the entrance of the Arch into downtown St. Louis and provide impressive views of the city skyline for the first time.
|First graders from KIPP Victory Academy and third graders from the Rockwood Center for Creative Learning perform the ceremonial groundbreaking for the new museum and visitor center at the Gateway Arch.|
“The new museum will have more focus on St. Louis and our role in history,” St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said. “The Arch is the undeniable symbol of our region, recognized around the world. With this project we are better connecting it to the city it represents.”
Design and construction of the visitor center and museum renovation is funded privately through the CityArchRiver 2015 Foundation with additional funding for construction provided through Proposition P (with Great Rivers Greenway providing oversight of funding) and Bi-State Development Agency. The construction of the visitor center and museum is managed by the National Park Service.
CityArchRiver Foundation Board Member and President of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis, Flint Fowler, stressed the community benefits of the museum and visitor center. “This resource is particularly for our children. We are building this project for the future, and they are indeed the future of this region,” he said. “There are new spaces for education that didn’t exist before with dedicated spaces for our children to learn and have discussions.”
Kaylan House, a sophomore at McKinley Classical Leadership Academy and a Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) alumnus, spoke about what the Arch means to her. “The Arch should serve as a reminder of this city’s potential,” she said. “This expansion will help us restore and build stronger the sense of community that we are known for.”
Kaylan was joined by other students at the groundbreaking as first graders from KIPP Victory Academy and third graders from the Rockwood Center for Creative Learning performed the ceremonial groundbreaking.
“This project brings together the culture and heritage of our region with the centerpiece of the St. Louis riverfront,” said John Nations, president and CEO of Bi-State Development Agency. “We look forward to sharing this new experience with the millions of people who visit the Gateway Arch each year and make it the most-visited monument west of Washington, D.C.”
“The Arch grounds, visitor center, and museum will now be a more welcoming public space,” said Susan Trautman, executive director of Great Rivers Greenway. “Connecting public spaces like this is one of the core values of our organization and an important part of making St. Louis an even better place to live.”
|View of the Old Courthouse and Downtown St. Louis from inside the future visitor center entrance at the Arch.|
More than 900 businesses, individuals and families, and foundations throughout the region have donated to the CityArchRiver project. Their support has been crucial in advancing the CityArchRiver project to the milestone celebrated today. To date, the private sector has committed $211.9 million toward the CityArchRiver project’s private funding needs.
The design team for the museum and visitor center renovation component of the project includes Cooper Robertson (New York, N.Y.), architect, with James Carpenter Design Associates (New York, N.Y.) and Trivers Associates (St. Louis, Mo.). McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. (St. Louis, Mo.) is the general contractor on the project.