Museum Monday

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

Museum Monday: solar system made in Kentucky


While visiting Kentucky last week I spent a few hours with the knowledgeable and very gracious staff at the museum of the Kentucky Historical Center in Frankfort. While there I was pleased to see – and learn about – the orrery pictured above.

An orrery, I learned, is a mechanical model of the solar system. This one was made by Thomas Barlow – a mechanic and inventor who lived in Kentucky – and purchased in 1887 for use at a school in Lexington. It’s unknown how many orreries Barlow (and his son) made in their shop, but today there are only three intact models remaining around the world.

Museum Monday: SFO Museum’s latest offering

Platter, Tomb of the Emperor Shah Jehan (Taj Mahal) pattern c. 1824–30s Oriental Scenery Cartouche series maker unknown possibly Staffordshire, England earthenware, blue underglaze Collection of Michael Sack . Courtesy SFO

Platter, Tomb of the Emperor Shah Jehan Collection of Michael Sack . Courtesy SFO

The newest exhibit from the SFO Museum at San Francisco International Airport, “From Print to Plate: Views of the East on Transferware,” features early nineteenth-century blue-and-white transferware with scenes of India, the Middle East, and China.

You’ve likely seen examples of transferware or transferware-like plates, but never looked closely at the actual images there. If you’ve got a some time to spend at SFO on a layover, here’s your chance.

This exhibition features blue-and-white wares made by Spode and a number of other British potters featuring scenes of famous architectural views of India, such as the Taj Mahal, drawn from early illustrated books, such as ‘A Picturesque Tour along the Rivers Ganges’ and ‘Jumna in India’ (1824) to scenes of Turkey and China taken from ‘Views in the Ottoman Empire’ (1803) and ‘A Picturesque Voyage to India by the Way of China’ (1810). The prints are alongside the corresponding plates and all come from the collection of Michael Sack.

from Print to Plate

courtesy SFO Museum


‘From Print to Plate: Views of the East on Transferware’ is located pre-security in the International Terminal Main Hall Departures Lobby at San Francisco International Airport and will be on view through March 19, 2017.

More images from the exhibition are on line here.

See Neil Armstrong’s gloves & helmet

Neil Armstrong's gloves & helmut - courtesy Smithsononian

Image: Dane Penland, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution

In commemoration of the 47th anniversary of the first moon landing (July 20, 1969) the National Air and Space Museum is displaying Neil Armstrong’s lunar extravehicular gloves and helmet for the first time since 2012.

The artifacts recently underwent conservation and will be on view until July 20, 2017 at the Smithsonian’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va.- which is just one stop from Washington’s Dulles International Airport on the Fairfax Connector (#983) bus.

Looking forward… Armstrong’s complete Apollo 11 spacesuit will go on display in time for the 50th anniversary of the moon landing in 2019.

In preparation for that anniversary, the museum is asking the public for photos of the spacesuit on display when it was on a national tour back in  in 1970, or of the gloves and helmet on later tours and the spacesuit on display at the Smithsonian between 1971 and 2006.

Neil Armstrong's spacesuit. Courtesy National Air & Space Museum

Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit. Courtesy National Air & Space Museum ,

On its website, the Smithsonian also has a high resolution 3-D scan of the Apollo 11 command module “Columbia,” that allows anyone with an internet connection to explore the entire craft including its intricate interior – something you can’t do when you’re at the museum in person.


Museum Monday: Corkscrew collection at the CIA

While attending illy’s intensive University of Coffee at the Culinary Institute of America’s campus in St. Helena, Calif. for this story about United Airlines’ coffee brand switch, I was pleased to get a chance to see Brother Timothy’s corkscrew collection.

The CIA’s Greystone campus in California was once the home of the Christian Brothers Winery and winemaker Brother Timothy Diener collected more than 1,000 corkscrews over 50 years. Here are a few snaps.


Corckscrew seahorseCorkscrew horse