Updated 1:24, Nov. 11 with agreement -
This Veteran’s Day, the Missouri History Museum takes over as official custodian of Soldiers Memorial Military Museum. The city and history museum formalized the agreement outside Soldier’s Memorial.
The museum’s revitalization project will include an external building facelift, expanding exhibition space, and HVAC installations. The Museum announced the updates will include installing new fountains and monuments to fallen soldiers in The Court of Honor across the street from the memorial. Private funders will provide the estimated 30 million dollar cost of the overhaul and building operations.
Mayor Slay signed the agreement on behalf of the city and expressed his support for the project in a press release.
“Our long-term agreement with this team of experts will ensure that this memorial is transformed into a world-class museum that honors our fallen and pays respect to those who fight for our freedoms,” he said.
The museum expects to close the memorial’s doors for renovations this spring with the hope of reopening in 2018.
The Missouri History Museum will be officially taking over management of Soldiers Memorial from the City of St. Louis. The city’s Board of Aldermen voiced their initial approval for the arrangement Friday morning. The vote was met without opposition.
In a statement released immediately after the vote the History Museum expressed excitement at nearing the final stages of the process.
“We are so pleased to have the support and enthusiasm from the Board of Aldermen and the Office of the Mayor that we have received so far,” the statement said.
The city and the museum began laying the groundwork for the new plan over a year ago. Their initial agreement brought the History Museum in to assess the Soldiers Memorial collection while both groups explored a long-term commitment between the two organizations. That long-term agreement makes the planning and execution of renovations and operating the Memorial the History Museum's responsibility. Renovations will include climate control improvements to preserve the artifacts in the collection.
Alderwoman Lyda Krewson backs the change in management and said the museum’s current condition doesn’t adequately honor the very people it memorializes.
While presenting the bill Krewson discussed the History Museum’s work processing, inventorying, cataloging and cleaning Soldiers Memorial’s collection. She additionally identified one donor as Enterprise but the History Museum was unable to confirm whether funding was provided by the car rental company.
At a Missouri History Museum Trustee’s meeting in August, Director Fran Levine expressed her interest in the project because it offered a unique position to work with a building that’s structurally the same as when it was first built.
“The city simply didn’t have the funds to commit to renovation. In a way, that’s the good news because they didn’t do anything that compromised the beautiful architecture of that building,” she said.
The museum’s statement indicated a strong belief the project would receive little to no opposition in the Board of Aldermen’s final vote.
“Once all the agreements are finalized, we look forward to operating a dynamic and engaging Soldiers Memorial Military Museum.”
Operations expenses and renovation costs will be provided by anonymously-funded Soldiers Memorial, LLC and private donors. Those costs are estimated to be $1.25 million for annual operations and roughly $25 million for renovation costs.
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