Monday, September 26, 2022

New St. Louis Reimagined Soldiers Memorial Museum

The Soldiers Memorial renovation was a difficult task for staff members of the Missouri History Museum. How can you reimagine a structure that is so sacred to veterans and their families but which is not known to many people in the St. Louis area? This is the answer to your question. The Soldiers Memorial will hold a Grand Reopening Ceremony on November 3, at 9 a.m. On Tuesday, museum staff gave me a tour of the newly renovated memorial while workers were finishing up the displays.

First, Mark Sundlov, a veteran of the Air Force, introduced me to the new director of the Soldiers Memorial. Sunglow, who was born in Fredonia in New York, is an ideal fit for the memorial. He has extensive museum experience in North Dakota and served as a Minuteman missile commander. Sunglow found a home in Lafayette Square about a month ago and has been absorbing the history of St. Louis. The basement’s new special exhibition galleries, measuring 43,000 square feet, will have plenty of space to display the Soldiers Memorial and History Museum collections. The first exhibit is World War I. Plans call for a rotating collection of exhibits.

I am familiar with the Soldiers Memorial. I have been to the museum in its old form many times and have also covered its recent transformation. The impressive late Beaux-Arts building is still a surprise. As Karen Goering, the Project Manager led us through the renovated grounds. I was amazed at the complexity and detail that the exterior had, which, aside from the usual automobile exhaust, probably still had some of the city’s notorious coal dust on its facade. The Beaux-Arts style was losing the battle against Modernism by the time the memorial was opened in 1938. But it did not give up.

One of the roundel portraits depicting soldiers along the cornice of the building featured a soldier wearing a gas mask. This is a sad symbol of the First World War. Now that the original elevator doors are well preserved, I noticed barbed wire detailing behind a soldier on the left panel. This is another reminder of trench warfare. With the use of subtle LED lighting, the colossal black granite cenotaph at the central loggia is a shining example of the fact that both men and women are listed. The special touchscreen display allows visitors access to the names. Staff members have been collecting photos of each service member.

After admiring Emil Frei & Associates’ beautiful restoration work on Gold Star mosaic, originally made by Guidicy Marble & Terrazzo Tile Company, above the cenotaph, we moved into the first gallery. This gallery contains the first half of “St. The Soldiers Memorial and Missouri History Museum collections provide rich resources for Louis in Service. The curators had to choose carefully from a large number of objects to tell the story of how St. Louisans served in the American wars. Mike Vento (new military and firearms curator) spoke about some of these more prominent objects. It was thrilling to finally see the Emerson gun turbine, which Frances Levine has voted as one of her favorite memorial objects. It is also the largest object in the galleries, according to my belief. I also learned about Private Spottswood Rice’s story, who was able to escape slavery and enlist in the Union Army during Civil War. At the Grand Reopening, Chaplain Major Kyle Taylor will invocation.

Marvin-Alonso Greer was the education and visitor experience leader at the Soldiers Memorial. He introduced a feature of the educational experience that our government would prefer to forget: The Bonus Army. Tens of thousands of World War I veterans marched to Washington in 1932 to demand unpaid federal benefits. Several protesters were shot by police, including William Hushka, a St. Louis butcher. Greer will bring more stories from St. Louis veterans to life, as vividly and as vividly as he did during his visit.

The second gallery tells the story of St. Louis, and its veterans and continues to the present. Rocky Sickmann was a Marine who was captured in Tehran during Iran Hostage Crisis. Two pages of his diary are currently on display at the museum. These pages will be rotated periodically to protect the paper. Right now, his entry for Thanksgiving is on display. Lambert’s control tower was home to a banner welcoming Sickmann from Iran; this banner is now on display. Museum conservators have done the difficult task of removing dirt and preserving signatures on the canvas. Shay Henrion, Soldiers Memorial collections manager, was installing display cases as we looked at this gallery. She stopped to explain how she chooses and cares for these delicate objects. The most striking object for me was the scorched remnants of an improvised explosion device (IED), which was made from an old muffler that I had recovered from Iraq. My students include veterans who were injured by IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The final piece of blackened metal encapsulates everything about the Soldiers Memorial. It is difficult to interpret history in a museum setting. In March, I finally reached the Casa Buonarroti in Florence, which houses two of Michelangelo’s earliest sculptures. Although the museum is rated online four stars, it has a terrible visitor experience. It features cigarette-smoking galleries and rude staff. Soldiers Memorial is a history museum that does not offer Michelangelo sculptures. Visitors are invited to see a piece of an old muffler that is rusty. The Soldiers Memorial accomplishes this feat with great success.

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