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Missouri History Museum

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Commissioners of the Zoo-Museum District, on September 30, voted to raise the property tax rate that funds five St. Louis cultural institutions to the highest level permitted by state law.  Those institutions are the St. Louis Zoo, the Missouri Botanical Garden, Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis Science Center and Missouri History Museum.

Logo from 2013 exhibit at MoHist
Provided by the Missouri History Museum

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Assassinations. Activism. Love-ins. “Laugh In.” Bell bottoms. Bombs. The year 1968 was an explosion of world-changing events from the murders of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy to the ubiquity of the peace sign.

St. Louis Science Center

At least one member of the public board that oversees the five cultural institutions in the Zoo-Museum District in St. Louis says it's time to think about charging some visitors to enter the St. Louis Zoo, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis Science Center, St. Louis Art Museum and the Missouri History Museum.

(Courtesy Collection of The New-York Historical Society)

As the author of the Declaration of Independence and the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson is seen as a champion of liberty. Yet during his lifetime he owned more than 600 slaves and at the time of his death, more than 130 slaves were sold to pay off his debts.

An exhibit currently on display at the Missouri History Museum elaborates on this paradox.

(Courtesy Missouri History Museum Collections)

In recognition of the 250th anniversary of St. Louis, the Missouri History Museum is compiling an exhibit called "250 in 250," highlighting 50 people, 50 places, 50 images, 50 moments and 50 objects.

"I suppose the easiest thing for us to do would have been to do an exhibit on the city's founding," said Jody Sowell, director of exhibitions and research at the Missouri History Museum. "But we really wanted to come up with something that would cover that whole span of time, and really show the richness, diversity and complexity of that history."

From the exhibit

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Thomas Jefferson’s convoluted and complicated history as a slave owner – while long espousing opposition to the institution -- goes well beyond his likely 30-plus-year liaison with one of his slaves, Sally Hemings.

That fact is made clear in the newest exhibit at the Missouri History Museum, “Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello: Paradox of Liberty.”

Jerry Tovo (Courtesy Missouri History Museum)

 During the Vietnam War, Jerry Tovo was a drill sergeant, training soldiers to go to war. After he left the military, Tovo became a professional photographer, specializing in advertising. But in 2011, he took his photography in a less commercial direction--photographing homeless veterans across the country.

Tovo's motivation for the project originated with an understanding of the problems that can lead to homelessness  among veterans.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Missouri History Museum says that former president Robert Archibald helped secure a $1 million donation during his six-month tenure as a consultant, but the arrangement has now ended, and it will not be renewed.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.  In remembering that historic event, the first name that comes to mind to most people is Reverend Martin Luther King and his I Have a Dream Speech.  But few know that the person responsible for a large part of the organization of that march and also for motivating King to his non violent method of activism was another civil rights activist, Bayard Rustin.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Missouri History Museum will spend $100,000 on a search firm to find a replacement for Robert Archibald, with the new president expected to be in place by the end of the year.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: After one week as interim president of the Missouri History Museum, Bob Cox is far from knowing everything about the institution, but he thinks it can overcome the controversies of recent months and regain the public confidence it needs.

“The image of the institution has certainly been tarnished,” he acknowledged, referring to a barrage of news in recent months about a land deal on Delmar, compensation for departed President Robert Archibald, and a $1 million pledge – since rescinded – to the Loop Trolley project.

file photo

Bob Cox, a former senior vice president of St. Louis-based technology company Emerson, was hired last week to be the temporary leader of the Missouri History Museum.

The tax payer funded institution has been mired in controversy since the Museum overpaid for land, a sale which involved ex-Mayor Freeman Bosley Jr.  Bosley had recently stepped down from the Museum’s board of trustees.

Longtime Missouri History Museum President Bob Archibald resigned in December 2012.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Bob Cox, a former senior vice president at Emerson, has been named interim president of the Missouri History Museum, starting on Monday.

Cox, whose job will be part time, is expected to serve until the museum selects a permanent replacement for Robert Archibald, who resigned as president of the museum late last year in the wake of controversy over his compensation and the purchase of land for a community center that was never developed.

(via Wikimedia Commons)

A former senior vice president of St. Louis-based technology company Emerson has been tapped as the temporary leader of the Missouri History Museum post.

Bob Cox will serve as a part-time consultant to the museum until December 31, though the contract can be terminated early if a full-time president is found before then. Cox will receive $85 an hour for his work, but is not eligible for health care or other benefits.

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.