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Missouri History Museum's front plaza to undergo upgrades

The upgrades are meant to make the front plaza "more inviting and inclusive,” the architect for the project said.
Credit: DILIP VISHWANAT | St. Louis Business Journal
The Missouri History Museum in Forest Park.

ST. LOUIS — The plaza at the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park will undergo upgrades intended to make the facility's front entrance more accessible and modern.

The plaza entrance on the north side of the museum, at 5700 Lindell Blvd. where events such as Twilight Tuesdays are held, will change.

The project contemplates moving entrance steps farther north, creating a larger landing near the building while removing planters and other visual obstructions that have been scattered around the plaza, Peter Tao of Tao + Lee Associates, the architect for the project, said at a city meeting this fall. 

To access the facility, the Missouri Historical Society, which operates the museum, will add sloped walks that are accessed from either side, similar to those at the newly opened $100 million visitor center at the Missouri Botanical Garden, renderings show. 

The sloped walks are “meant to make this place more inviting and inclusive,” Tao said. 

An existing fountain features heavily in the new plan, but the cladding that covers it will likely have to be replaced since the limestone has degraded over time, the architect said. 

The larger landing should make the entrance more accessible to large groups, which currently have trouble crowding between the stairs and doors, he said.

The costs of the renovations are not yet known, since bids have not yet been returned with cost estimates, a spokeswoman for the museum said. That could happen as soon as January. The plaza upgrades will be funded through the Missouri Historical Society’s annual capital budget over two years, the spokeswoman said.

Since the project is still in the pre-bid phase, a timeline has not yet been finalized, but it is hoped that the upgrades will be finished sometime in 2023, the spokeswoman said.

The museum holds a number of events on the north lawn, underscoring the importance of making the area more open and accessible, said the historical society's new president and CEO, Jody Sowell, who was promoted to the position in July.

“The plaza of the Missouri History Museum is the front lawn of St. Louis," Sowell said. "It is where we gather for concerts, where we celebrate annual events, where we go on field trips, and even where we dance to encourage people to vote. Since 1913, this has been an important gathering spot. These new improvements will allow us to make this space more accessible and more welcoming for all.”

Click here to read the full story from the St. Louis Business Journal.

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