Museums

Museum Monday: St. Louis Gateway Arch museum

Courtesy Gateway Arch Park Foundation

July 3 is opening day for the new museum at the iconic Gateway Arch, the iconic 630-foot-tall concrete and stainless-steel structure on the St. Louis riverfront that commemorates Thomas Jefferson and the role St. Louis played in the westward expansion of the United States.

Completed in 1965, the arch began offering tram rides to a viewing platform at its top in 1967. Now $380 million of upgrades to the parkland around the country’s tallest man-made monument and to the underground museum below it are being readied for visitors.

Here’s a preview of the upgraded ground-level Gateway Arch experience that I originally prepared for CNBC.

 

The arch itself and the tram ride that brings visitors to the small observation room at the top of the arch remains unchanged, but the way visitors get to the arch and experience the Gateway Arch Park has been transformed.

“You don’t change a masterpiece,” said Eric Moraczewski, Executive Director of the Gateway Arch Park Foundation, “What we’ve done is renovate about 100 acres of park space, added 46,000 square feet of museum space, a café and raised the riverfront about 30 inches to prevent flooding and give us more useable days on the riverfront. We also built a land bridge over Interstate 44 to make the park more accessible to visitors.”

When the free museum inside the Gateway Arch reopens on July 3, visitors will see some old favorites, such as the statue of Thomas Jefferson, and many new artifacts, including a resin version of the much-loved taxidermy buffalo that park officials say was showing too much wear and tear.

The new museum has six galleries: Colonial St. Louis explores the founding of St. Louis and the indigenous and Creole culture before the Louisiana Purchase; Jefferson’s Vision documents how St. Louis shaped the west; and Manifest Destiny follows the trails, the settlers and the conflicts for those heading west. The Riverfront Era gallery shows how steamboats created an American metropolis at St. Louis and New Frontiers presents the history of railroads, industry, and the myth of the West. Finally, Building the Gateway Arch presents the history of the Eero Saarinen-designed monument itself.

The Riverfront Era gallery in the new museum at the Gateway Arch features a façade made with stones from the Old Rock House, a structure built as a warehouse in 1818 that was demolished to make may for the construction of the arch.

“The history preservation team for National Park Service kept the stones, carefully stored them and was able to reuse them. Now you walk into the museum through the stones of the Old Rock House,” said Eric Moraczewski, Executive Director of the Gateway Arch Park Foundation.

A new feature in the tram lobby will offer visitors on the ground a live webcam stream of the view from the observation space at the top of the Gateway Arch. The webcam will give those waiting for the ticketed tram ride a preview of what they’ll see and also make the view accessible to people who use wheelchairs, visitors afraid of heights and others who choose not to purchase a ticket to the top.

 

The new museum and visitor center on the renovated grounds of the Gateway Arch National Park in St. Louis, MO will be celebrated with a ribbon cutting ceremony on July 3 as part of Fair St. Louis, a July 4th celebration dubbed “America’s Biggest Birthday Party.”

All phoots courtesy Gateway Arch Park Foundation

Vintage radios on display at SFO Airport

The “Mystic” Radio Bug and headset c. 1927 – courtesy SFO Museum

Radio – the invention – was a transformational technological triumph of the 20th century and today some of the earliest radios – the objects – are sought after collectible objects.

A new exhibition – On the Radio – from the SFO Museum at San Francisco International Airport brings together classic radio sets spanning sixty years of design, from crystal sets and luxury consoles, to stylish tabletop models and pocket-sized transistors.

Here are some highlights from the exhibition on view post-security on the Departures Level of SFO Terminal 3 through September 30, 2018. All photos courtesy SFO Museum.

Put on a podcast -or better yet, download an old-time radio classic – and take a tour.

Model 400–3 “Patriot” 1940

 

Model 21 “Minuette” 1932

X–11 Aladino 1949 

 

Regency TR–1 1954

 

Travel Tidbits: Cool ANZ safety video, free museums, fun stuff

 

Happy Friday. Here’s hoping you have a great weekend of adventures planned.

Here are some travel tidbits that might be useful as you head out on the road.

Air New Zealand has a new in-fligh safety video it is calling “The World’s Coolest” – becuase it was filmed in Antarctica.

Pittsburgh International Airport gets arty

In addition to hosting a new paint-it-yourself art studio called Paint Monkey, Pittsburgh International Airport has appointed its first artist-in-residence. Blaine Siegel will have studio space at the airport for a year and during his residency he’ll interact with travelers and airport workers to better understand the airport environment. He’ll then produce an artwork that will be exhibited at the airport.

Visit museums free this weekend 

Thanks to the Museums on Us program, anyone with a Bank of America, Merrill Lynch or U.S. Trust credit or debit card can gain free entry to any of more than 200 museums, science centers and cultural attractions around the country this weekend – and on the first full weekend of every month. The full roster of participating venues can be found here.

Norwegian debuts female-driven in flight comedy channel

Norwegian has put together a female-driven in-flight comedy channel called PYPO (Put Your Pretty On), with Emmy-winner Stephanie Laing, that will be available on the airlines’ Dreamliner long-haul flights.  The channel will start with seven comedy sketches, totaling about 20 minutes, with more to come later this year.

Check out some samples here and here.

JFK Terminal has its own website

As a reminder that every terminal at New York’s JFK airport is pretty much its own world, JFK Terminal 4 now has its own website featuring an interactive terminal map, current information about security and taxi wait times, a FAQ section and tourist information. (T4 also has its own Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts).

 

Cool, coin-op machines on view at San Francisco Int’l Airport

“Futura” -1950s; Gypsy Fortune Teller – 1932. Courtesy SFO Museum

The newest exhibition offered by the SFO Museum at San Francisco International Airport is about coin-operated machines, which smartly combine mechanical novelty and automated convenience. 

Lukat “The Lucky Cat” (1952) dispensed gum and a prize ticket.

“At the drop of a coin, they vended goods, provided entertainment, and offered potential jackpot payouts and free merchandise,” the exhibit notes tell us, while incorporating “decorative graphics and innovative mechanisms that captured the attention of people worldwide.”

‘Whiffs of Fragrance” 1916- dispenses a bit of perfume. Courtesy SFO Museum

Take a look as some of the cool coin-operated machines from the Joe Welch American Antique Museum in San Bruno, California on view for free (no coins necessary) in the pre-security International Terminal Main Hall Departures Lobby at San Francisco International Airport.

“The Automatic Age: Coin Operated Machines is on view from December 16, 2017 through August 5, 2018

Exquisite airplane models on view at SFO Museum

Hughes H-4 Hercules (“Spruce Goose”) model. Courtesy SFO Museum

A new exhibition from the SFO Museum at San Francisco International Airport features almost  three hundred 1:72 scale (one inch = six feet) models of pioneer, sport and commercial aircraft made with plastic, wood, metal, wire, string, and epoxy and detailed with paint and decals.

Air France Concorde SST (Super Sonic Transport) model aircraft. Courtesy SFO Museum

The models come from the collection of Jim Lund, a Bay Area native who made aircraft models as a kid and returned to the practice as an adult.

“Numerous models were constructed or modified from kits produced by manufacturers worldwide,” exhibit notes tell us,  and “In the many instances when no kit was available, Lund crafted the model parts from scratch based on manufacturers’ plans using the ‘vacuform’ process—a method that creates plastic parts from his hand-carved wood forms.”

Aviation Evolutions: The Jim Lund 1:72 Scale Model Airplane Collection is on view pre-security on Depatures Level 3 through May 13, 2018.

Here are some more examples of what’s on view.

 

American Airways Curtiss Condor T-32 airliner model aircraft. Courtesy SFO Museum

 

SCADTA (Sociedad Colombo Alemana de Transporte Aéreo) Junkers F.13 airliner model aircraft . Courtesy SFO Museum

 

Dornier Do X flying boat airliner model aircraft. Courtesy SFO Museum