Mission and History
The Saint Louis Art Museum collects, presents, interprets, and conserves works of art of the highest quality across time and cultures; educates, inspires discovery, and elevates the human spirit; and preserves a legacy of artistic achievement for the people of St. Louis and the world.
The Saint Louis Art Museum was founded in 1879, at the close of a decade that saw the establishment of art museums in great cities across the eastern half of the United States. This Museum’s comprehensive collections bear witness to the inspirational and educational goals to which its founder aspired and the moral and democratic imperatives he embraced. What began as a collection of assorted plaster casts, electrotype reproductions, and other examples of good design in various media rapidly gave way to a great and varied collection of original works of art spanning five millennia and six continents. Today the quality and breadth of the Museum’s collection secure for it a place among the very best institutions of its kind.
Founded by the National Park Service in 1935 to commemorate Thomas Jefferson’s vision of a transcontinental United States, the Gateway Arch National Park (formerly known as the “Jefferson National Expansion Memorial”) stretches from the Old Courthouse to the steps overlooking the Mississippi River. In between, the Gateway Arch rises high, a bold monument to the pioneering spirit.
Today, the Gateway Arch celebrates the diverse people who shaped the region and the country. The dreamer, Thomas Jefferson, negotiated the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, doubling the size of the United States. The explorers, Lewis & Clark and their Shoshone guide Sacagawea, scouted the new territory and mapped a route to the Pacific Ocean. The challengers, Dred and Harriet Scott, filed suit at the Old Courthouse for their freedom from slavery, and St. Louis suffragette Virginia Minor sued for women’s right to vote. The artist, architect Eero Saarinen, designed the monument that honors them all.
The monument we know today began in 1935, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt designated property along the St. Louis riverfront to be developed as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (now known as Gateway Arch National Park). While the land was cleared for construction, the City of St. Louis deeded the Old Courthouse to the National Park Service to be incorporated into the Memorial. In 1948, a nationwide design competition determined what shape the Memorial would take, and in 1963, construction began on architect Eero Saarinen’s design for a stainless steel arch. Completed in 1965, the Gateway Arch stands as a symbol of national identity and an iconic example of mid-century modern design.
Anchoring the west end of the Park, the Old Courthouse is a prime example of mid-19th century federal architecture. Built in 1839, the Courthouse served as the site of a number of landmark civil rights cases, including the Dred Scott decision. In the 1830s, the enslaved Scott was taken to free territory in Illinois and Wisconsin before being brought back to Missouri. In 1847 and 1850, under Missouri’s “once free, always free” doctrine, Scott sued for his freedom at the St. Louis Courthouse. In 1857, the U.S. Supreme Court decided against Scott and his wife Harriet, ruling that African-Americans were not citizens and had no right to sue in court. Dissent over the decision helped to speed the start of the U.S. Civil War four years later.
ABOUT SAINT LOUIS CITY MUSEUM
Housed in the 10-story, 600,000 square-foot warehouse of the International Shoe Company, City Museum is a mixture of children’s playground, funhouse, surrealistic pavilion, and architectural marvel made out of found and repurposed objects The brainchild of internationally-acclaimed artist Bob Cassilly, a classically trained sculptor, City Museum opened for visitors in 1997.
About the Saint Louis Zoo
The Saint Louis Zoo-Home to over 13,000* animals representing 555* species, the Saint Louis Zoo is recognized worldwide for its innovative approaches to animal care and management, wildlife conservation, research and education. One of the few free zoos in the nation, the Saint Louis Zoo attracts approximately 3 million visitors annually and is the most-visited attraction in the region.
History of the Zoo
A Zoo is Born-There's more to the Zoo's beginning than the 1904 World's Fair Flight Cage. The Zoo's beginning was made official with the formation of the Zoological Society of St. Louis in 1910.