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Missouri History Museum

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Missouri History Museum plans to hire an interim director to oversee daily operations for the rest of the year until a permanent successor to Robert Archibald can be found.

The joint budget committee of the museum trustees and its subdistrict commissioners, meeting at the museum on Tuesday, approved a suggestion from John Roberts, head of the board of trustees, that the interim director be hired at a salary of $85 an hour, with no benefits. For a job that is expected to be 20 hours a week, starting June 1, the person would be paid about $47,000 through 2013.

Credit (via Flickr/Reading Tom)

Critics of the Missouri History Museum have failed in an initial attempt to cut the amount of taxpayer money that goes to the institution.

The publicly-appointed board that oversees the five institutions in the Zoo-Museum District voted today to keep the museum's rate at about four cents per every $100 in property value, which generates about $10 million from the city and county combined. 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Rejecting characterizations they are simply a rubber stamp, a majority of the Zoo-Museum District board approved a motion Thursday to keep the preliminary tax rate of the Missouri History Museum at its maximum level.

The vote was 5-3, with the museum’s persistent critics – Charles Valier, Gloria Wessels and Jerry Glick – voting no. They had previously moved that the museum’s rate be cut so it would receive $1.5 million less than its current $10 million annual tax subsidy, but that motion was defeated.

(via Wikimedia Commons)

The St. Louis Board of Alderman is weighing into the ongoing debate over alleged misuse of taxpayer funds at the Missouri History Museum.

The BOA hopes to use its bully pulpit as leverage to improve transparency at the museum.

Members of the History Museum’s Board of Trustees, as well as its subdistrict commissioners were brought in to testify before the Board of Aldermen on issues ranging from, questionable land purchases, to compensation for former museum president Bob Archibald, to its use of taxpayer funds.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Both sides in an aldermanic hearing on the Missouri History Museum Wednesday agreed that issues such as a questionable land deal and compensation for departed president Robert Archibald were mistakes that had shaken public confidence in the institution.

But they parted ways on the issue of whether recent changes in governance go far enough to restore taxpayers’ faith in the museum and to guard against such problems occurring in the future.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: As the Board of Aldermen prepares to resume its hearing into problems and policies at the Missouri History Museum, commissioners of the Zoo-Museum District who have been critical of how the museum spends its money say its tax subsidy should be cut.

Alderman Joe Roddy, who heads the aldermanic parks committee, chaired its first session on the museum in January. Wednesday morning, city appointees to the museum’s subdistrict commission are expected to testify about how the issues that have dogged the museum for the past several months can be resolved.

Courtesy of Missouri History Museum

Every day it is a natural inclination for humans to have a question and seek an answer for it.

Some questions might come across as trivial and silly, and others may dig deeper into one’s life and purpose. And some may help to unify and unfurl decades of preconceived notions.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Missouri History Museum dates back to 1866, but as it begins the task of finding a new president to succeed Robert Archibald, a lot of the focus will be on the past few months.


Six years ago, the annual Africa World Documentary Film Festival debuted in St. Louis.

The festival is back at the Missouri History Museum and runs through Sunday, March 3rd.  The three-day event features documentaries from filmmakers all over the world that are focused on social culture, sexual identity, mental disabilities, and more.

After showing in St. Louis, the films will travel to nine other venues across three continents.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The St. Louis circuit attorney’s office has presented issues involving the Missouri History Museum for consideration by a grand jury.

Two commissioners of the Zoo-Museum District – Charles Valier and Gloria Wessels – said they have received subpoenas from the grand jury asking for documents involving three issues:

This article first appeared in the St. Louis: Under sometimes sharp questioning by commissioners of the Zoo-Museum District, the head of the Missouri History Museum board of trustees defended on Thursday the $45,000-a-month consulting contract granted to Robert Archibald after he resigned as head of the museum late last year.

John Roberts, who is also acting as de facto head of the museum until Archibald’s successor can be chosen, said that the six-month consulting agreement was designed so that Archibald can continue to cultivate big-time donors to the museum with whom he established relationships during his 25-year tenure as president.

(via Wikimedia Commons)

An investigation of the Missouri History Museum released on Wednesday found no evidence of document shredding.

Former U.S. Attorney Edward Dowd, of the St. Louis law firm Dowd-Bennett, was contracted by the history museum to investigate claims that museum staff destroyed documents following a $566,000 payout to former Museum President Bob Archibald, for unused vacation.

(via Wikimedia Commons)

An appraisal released on Tuesday shows that the Missouri History Museum paid ex-Mayor Freeman Bosley Jr. over three times market rate for property Bosley sold the museum in 2006.

The sale which was only recently discovered was the catalyst behind a series of events which led to the resignation of Museum President Bob Archibald.

Credit (via Flickr/Reading Tom)

Updated at 8:00 p.m. with statement from Missouri History Museum.

The prosecutor in the city of St. Louis will look into some of the governance and oversight issues plaguing the Missouri History Museum.

"Upon request, we have agreed to review concerns brought to the St. Louis Board of Aldermen in connection with the Missouri History Museum. At this point, it would be inappropriate to discuss this matter further," Jennifer Joyce said in an written statement. 

(via Wikimedia Commons)

While Robert Archibald is stepping down as president of the Missouri History Museum, he will be getting a financial payout of close to a million dollars.

The museum’s board of trustees accepted Archibald’s resignation on Friday.

Despite the circumstances of his departure, Archibald himself will still be receiving a payout of $566,000 for unused vacation, plus $270,000 for a six-month consult contract.  All told, $836,000, as he walks out the door.

Courtesy Mo. History Museum

Updated at 4:45 with comments from ZMD board member Gloria Wessels.

Updated with comments from Zoo-Museum District board member Jerome Glick, and to correct Archibald's tenure at the museum.

The president of the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park has resigned.

A spokesman for the museum confirmed that Robert Archibald submitted his resignation to the chair of the museum's Board of Trustees today. The spokesman, Everett Dietle, did not have any additional information. The board will meet Friday morning at the museum.

Credit (via Flickr/Reading Tom)

It appears as though a couple of members of one of the oversight boards for the Missouri History Museum are getting their wish. The Board of Aldermen appears poised to jump into the fray over the way the museum is being run.

trolley missouri history museum
Rachel Heidenry | 2009

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon - Robert Archibald has signed his new one-year contract as president of the Missouri History Museum with a salary of $375,000, a housing allowance of $33,000, the possibility of a raise and a bonus – and more than $566,000 for 410 vacation days he said he never used.

(via Wikimedia Commons)

Several months of scrutiny into the management of the Missouri History Museum has resulted in little change.  The commissioners of the St. Louis Zoo-Museum District have voted not to accept an audit committee report calling for tougher governance of the museum.

A vote to accept an audit committee report resulted in a 4-4 tie, meaning the motion failed.

The museum has been at the center of a months-long controversy involving a cozy relationship between embattled Museum President Bob Archibald and his board of trustees.

ZMD Board Says History Museum Needs Complete Overhaul

Nov 8, 2012
Credit (via Flickr/Reading Tom)

The board charged with distributing taxpayer funds to the five members of the St. Louis Zoo-Museum District says the Missouri History Museum needs a complete restructuring.  The Zoo-Museum District was created to oversee public funding for the St. Louis Zoo, the St. Louis Art Museum, the St. Louis Science Center, the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Missouri History Museum.

The ZMD Audit Committee met Thursday and claim the reforms recommended for the History Museum by former Senator Jack Danforth do not go far enough.

(via Flickr/Reading Tom)

Updated 3:55 p.m. October 18

Sen. John Danforth has accepted his role as negotiator.

Courtesy of Auvelia Arnold

An exhibit now on display at the Missouri History Museum takes a look at the early history of the African American community in Kirkwood.

St. Louis Public Radio’s Julie Bierach spoke with Curator David Lobbig about the multimedia project that traces the first settlement before the Civil War to suburban development after World War II.

When you and your colleagues came up with the idea for “Kirkwood Roots,” what did you envision?

(The Midland Montly Magazine, 1865)

The Missouri History Museum is opening a new exhibit Saturday called “The Civil War in Missouri.”

There’s a lot of ground to cover in a state that was bitterly divided by the war and saw more than 1,200 battles and skirmishes.

But the museum, founded just one year after the Civil War ended, has a treasure trove of artifacts from the era that bring the conflict to life.

St. Louis Public Radio’s Maria Altman got a sneak peak.

(provided by Carla Alexander)

On the corner of Garrison and Sheridan in St. Louis stands a vacant building that for decades housed a thriving African American business. Its owner is remembered as an entrepreneur and informal activist during the civil rights movement. But now, the building is crumbling.

The Pruitt-Igoe public housing project in St. Louis was once considered the template for post-war public housing, a national model.  For awhile it was—until it wasn’t.  The high rise complex was constructed in 1954.  Two decades later, and by then notorious, Pruitt-Igoe was a pile of rubble, imploded and bulldozed into history. What went wrong and why?  That’s the subject of a new documentary film called The Pruitt-Igoe Myth: an Urban History.   Directed by Chad Freidrichs, the film will have its St. Louis premiere this Saturday at the Missouri History Museum.

(Missouri History Museum)

Civil War buffs who want to make St. Louis a part of their itinerary during the sesquicentennial of the war have a new website to help them plan their trip.

The Missouri History Museum and the St. Louis Conventions and Visitors Commission unveiled the Freedom's Gateway Web site today.

Jo Seltzer

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 18, 2008 - Up to three centuries ago, at the time of Galileo, there was no clock worthy of the name. The most technically sophisticated instruments used to measure time were sundials.

Sundials date back to about 1500 BC. And today, most are out of sight and out of mind.

But they made a comeback of sorts here earlier this month when the North American Sundial Society (NASS), a group devoted to the study and creation of sundials, met in St. Louis for its 2008 Annual Conference.

Ice cream gets its day

Jul 17, 2008
Photo by Rachel Heidenry | The Beacon

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 17, 2008-

Chocolaty and lemony;
Vanilla-y and raisin-y,
Marshmallow-y; rum butter-y,
So good, it's almost scary-y.

Cherry-y; peach cobbler-y,
Hot fudge-y and blackberry-y,
I'd love to hold it longingly,
If it wasn't so darn melty-y.

Banana-y and almond-y,
Fudge Ripple-y; strawberry-y,
There's nothing quite so yummerly,
As ice cream in your tummerly.

— Bill Smith

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: There are good reasons to visit the new "Lee and Grant" exhibition at the Missouri History Museum, beyond the spectacular Civil War objects and artwork that will be on display, said museum president Robert Archibald.