Missouri History Museum | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri History Museum

Curator Sharon Smith notes that roughly 55 million people have attended shows at the Muny in Forest Park over the course of the outdoor theater’s 99 seasons thus far.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

As the Muny marks its centennial season of outdoor musical theater, another Forest Park mainstay is also celebrating the milestone – with “Muny Memories: 100 Seasons Onstage.” That show opens Saturday at the Missouri History Museum.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh offered listeners a sneak peek at the new exhibit, which explores the Muny from many different perspectives. Joining him for the discussion was curator Sharon Smith.

Gwen Moore is curator of urban landscape and community identity.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The history of civil rights in St. Louis is compelling and complex.

More than 245,000 people have visited an exhibit at the Missouri History Museum detailing the area’s civil rights history. It closes April 15 after a 13-month run. 

“I think it tells us that people are really interested in St. Louis history and that they will turn out when you present that history to them,” explained Gwen Moore. “I think that we’ve done that in a very compelling way.”

Missouri Historical Society’s president and CEO, Frances Levine (right), and managing director of education and visitor experience, Nick Hoffman (left) talked about the organization's rebranding efforts.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

In Nov. 2015, the Missouri History Museum acquired the Soldiers Memorial downtown and embarked on a massive renovation project. As the project nears completion, the organization has rebranded itself as the Missouri Historical Society, operating the Missouri History Museum, the Library & Research Center and the Soldiers Memorial Military Museum, set to reopen in Nov. 3, 2018.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with leaders of the Missouri Historical Society (MHS) about recent changes at the institution, including the rebranding initiative and expansion efforts.

The Africa World Documentary Film Festival runs Feb. 9-11 at the Missouri History Museum.
Africa World Documentary Film Festival

  

The 11th annual Africa World Documentary Film Festival, which runs this weekend in St. Louis, will highlight the experience of African people around the world.

This year, the festival at the Missouri History Museum includes documentaries that focus on Burkina Faso, Nigeria, South Africa and the United States.

Festival director Niyi Coker said the documentaries will give viewers in St. Louis a chance to witness breathtaking stories from Africa and its diaspora.

(L-R) Tory Russell, Regina Dennis-Nana and Bobby Williams talked about the protest of prison systems in the past versus now.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

More than four decades ago, a three-day inmate sit-in protest over conditions at the St. Louis City Jail faced a violent end, with more than 30 inmates injured. That led to a 21-day protest outside the jail by activists demanding improved conditions in the cells.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with citizen negotiators during that protest in 1972 and compared the experience with the protests of today. Joining the discussion were Regina Dennis-Nana and Bobby Williams, who were both citizen negotiators during the sit-in protests 46 years ago.

(L-R) Etta Daniels, Marvin-Alonzo Greer and Shakia Gullette talked about collaborative event between the Missouri History Museum and Greenwood Cemetery to commemorate Missouri's Emancipation Day.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

This Thursday, Jan. 11, marks 153 years since slaves in Missouri were finally freed from bondage. Missouri’s Emancipation Day will be commemorated at the Missouri History Museum, in a collaborative event between the museum and Greenwood Cemetery.

Chris Martinez, the manager of media archives and digital assets at the Missouri History Museum, talks about the museum's latest project to preserve historic television ads.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

In the middle of the 20th century, St. Louis was a hub during the so-called “golden age of television and advertising.”

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked about an effort underway at the Missouri History Museum to preserve a massive film collection that includes television advertisements from the 1950s through the late 1970s.

Melanie Adams (L) and Amanda Doyle (R) are the authors of the new book, "Standing Up for Civil Rights in St. Louis."
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

A new book designed for upper elementary students shares the stories of ordinary men and women in St. Louis who fought for equal rights.

Amanda Doyle and Melanie Adams are the authors of “Standing Up for Civil Rights in St. Louis,” a publication of the Missouri History Museum Press.

“I really look at this book as our opportunity to educate the next generation on civil rights history,” Adams said.

Adams previously worked at the Missouri History Museum though now works for the Minnesota Historical Society.

Lara Hamdan / St. Louis Public Radio

Traditional dresses and music, symbolic foods and colorful decorations are all part of a celebration of life — and death.

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked about a local observance of Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a holiday indigenous to Mexico and Central and South American countries. The holiday began October 31 and ends on November 2.

Elisa Bender, board member of the Hispanic Festival, Inc., said Día de Los Muertos is a celebration of life.

Men outside of Lynch’s slave pen, 1850s. One of these men might be Lynch himself, but there are no known photos of him.
(Courtesy: Missouri History Museum)

Before the Civil War, Bernard Lynch owned the largest slave market in St. Louis. His operation included an office at 104 Locust Street, and a holding pen for slaves at 5th and Myrtle, present-day Broadway and Clark.

After the war, Lynch’s slave pen became a storage building for the Meyer Brothers Drug company, and in 1963, it was demolished to build Busch Stadium II.

Listener Anne Walker wrote to Curious Louis wondering whether any artifacts from the pen remain.

 

Portion of Pageant and Masque panorama photo showing crew and assorted costumed cast members with Art Hill seating visible in the distance. Photograph, 1914. Missouri History Museum Photographs and Prints Collections.
Courtesy of the Missouri History Museum

A new 6,000-square-foot exhibit opening September 2nd at the Missouri History Museum contains panoramic photographs of St. Louis from 1900 to 1950.

“People are going to feel like they are stepping into a moment in St. Louis history,” said Adam Kloppe, public historian for the Missouri History Museum and content lead for “Panoramas of the City.”

The moments captured in the exhibit include the following 35 foot long photographs:

Poster detail created for the event has the title of event.
Provided by Andrew Gibson

Music played an important role in the civil rights movement that helped transform the nation. Songs such as Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come” and “We Shall Not Be Moved” by Mavis Staples inspired black people to push for change — and moved the hearts of others.

Sarah Sims, of the Missouri History Museum, and Nicole Ivy, of the American Alliance of Museums discussed how museums are changing to reflect diversity and inclusion on Thursday's St. Louis on the Air.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Before Sarah Sims, the director of K-12 education programs at the Missouri History Museum, began her current job, she used to work in education. She remembers vividly a trip when she took her students to a local museum in which one student came up to her during the visit and told her how special the trip was. When she asked why, the student said “this is a mansion and this is the only time I get to come here.”

Visitors to the Contemporary Art Museum are now (Sept. 30, 2016) greeted by warning signs and a wall that went up in front of Kelley Walker's Direct Drive exhibit following criticism and outrage of the work.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The region’s arts attractions could be a little more crowded this week.

As many as 5,000 people are expected to attend the American Alliance of Museums annual meeting, which is being held in St. Louis this year. The event, which kicks off Sunday, is the country’s largest gathering of museum professionals. 

Gwen Moore and Percy Green joined "St. Louis on the Air" to discuss the Missouri History Museum's recent exhibit "#1 in Civil Rights."
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

If you remember the day two St. Louis activists climbed 125 feet up a construction ladder on the unfinished north leg of the Gateway Arch, you remember a key moment of the civil rights movement in St. Louis. Percy Green was one of the people who climbed the Arch on July 14, 1964.

Slinkies are one of the toys on exhibit in the Missouri History Museum's "Toys of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s" exhibit. https://www.flickr.com/photos/southpaw2305/4291636470/in/photolist-7xeL1f-64TFJk-64XYyu-4DfKXx-8hNXsa-e44sdM-oGHS7T-e44ri4-e4a5i1-ixGSpw-mk
Clare Black | Flickr

Baby Boomers, rejoice! A nostalgic throwback exhibit has rolled into town highlighting the toys of yesteryear. Hailing from the Minnesota State Historical Society, you can view collections of toys from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s through January 22, 2017 at the Missouri History Museum.

Sharon Smith, curator of Civic and Personal Identity at the Missouri History Museum, joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh to discuss the exhibit and what separates toys of Baby Boomers’ childhoods from the rest.

No, Día de los Muertos isn’t Mexican Halloween.

Oct 31, 2016
Sugar skulls and flowers decorate an altar at Diana's Bakery on Cherokee Street.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Preparations for Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, among St. Louis Latino communities are already apparent up and down Cherokee Street and in many of the region’s Mexican businesses. Celebrated the first two days of November, the holiday has the same elements every year: altars, marigolds, sugar skulls — and people comparing the day to Halloween.

“Día de los Muertos isn’t Halloween! It’s not Halloween,” said Minerva Lopez, who lives on Cherokee Street. “We don’t dehumanize death. For us, death is our friend. We see it as something that will happen, and in the meantime that it’s not happening, we’re here to live.”

These Trolls didn't hang out on the internet. Part of a toys exhibit at the Missouri History Museum opening Oct. 29, 2016.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio.

An exhibit opening Saturday at the Missouri History Museum offers a peek into the toy chests of baby boomers:

* There are Slinkies and Mr. Potato Heads.

* Roy Rogers figurines and first-edition Barbie dolls.

* Lionel train sets and Betsy McCall paper dolls.

These are the toys that entertained children before the Information Age — when games were played on colorful boards with dice, not touch screens. And Trolls were glass-eyed with wild hair and didn’t lurk on social media.

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Wanda Trotter, 68, thought about her childhood as she watched a play at the Missouri History Museum depicting the experiences of African-Americans traveling Route 66 before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination in public accommodations.

“I remember my parents packing our lunches and telling us that certain places you could not go to eat, or to use the bathroom facilities,’’ said Trotter. Her  family drove the famous highway from St. Louis to San Diego, Calif., in the early 1960s to visit her brother who was in the Navy.

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Original story published June 23, updated June 30 with audio from "St. Louis on the Air."

Just in time for summer, the Missouri History Museum is taking a road trip down Route 66 with a colorful exhibit on the Mother Road that opens Saturday.

The focus is St. Louis’ place along the famous roadway that opened America’s West to cross-country motoring in 1926.  The ribbon of pavement stretched 2,400 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles, touching eight states along the way. 

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