Breaking News
More () »

'It's a thrilling time': Missouri Botanical Garden opens new visitor center

To celebrate the grand opening, the garden will offer free admission to all visitors Saturday and Sunday.

ST. LOUIS — The Missouri Botanical Garden's brand new visitor center is open to the public.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Saturday morning for the Jack C. Taylor Visitor Center. To celebrate the grand opening, the garden will offer free admission to all visitors Saturday and Sunday, sponsored by Pohlmann Legacy.

Inside the new center, the William T. Kemper Lobby houses ticketing, restrooms, dining, and gift shopping, with all visitor services accessible on the main floor. 

The expanded Sassafras Restaurant and Café will offer two dining options and extensive outdoor seating, and the new Garden Gate Shop is now more spacious and features an outdoor plant shop.

"Throughout the building, guests will enjoy breathtaking views of Garden landscapes," the garden said in a press release. "Design elements, like terrazzo flooring with inlaid brass leaves and 10-foot glass panels showcasing plants from the Garden's collection, bring elements of the outdoors inside."

Ahead of the 10 a.m. ceremony, MoBot President Peter Wyse Jackson joined Today in St. Louis for a live interview.

"When they walk in, they will see an extraordinary array of new amenities and facilities," Jackson said. "It's really designed to make our visitors feel hugely welcome with wonderful restaurants, our garden gift shop, videos to tell them about the work of the garden. And then the whole of the great features of the garden spread out and open up for them."

The project was funded entirely by the garden's Gateway to the Garden campaign, which raised $100 million through private donations.

"It's a thrilling time," Jackson said. "This is a real milestone in the long and distinguished history of the Missouri Botanical Garden, and It opens a whole new era for the garden when we can do so much more with these wonderful facilities."

There's still more work to be done throughout the year. The garden said it will begin to plant the new north and south gardens in the fall, adding more than 35,000 plants in total to its landscape, including many rare and endangered species. 

Next month, plants will be added to the Emerson Conservatory, which will have a permanent display of Mediterranean plants and serve as a new home for the garden's floral shows.

The Bayer Event Center is set to be completed this winter.  

RELATED: Festival of Nations returns this weekend

RELATED: These St. Louis area pools are hosting dog swims this summer

Before You Leave, Check This Out