Originally completed in 1938, the Soldiers Memorial Military Museum reopened in November 2018 following a multi-year, $30 million renovation led by the Missouri Historical Society (MHS). The museum building was built in 1938 as a memorial to St. Louisans who died in World War I. The Soldiers Memorial was dedicated by President Franklin Roosevelt in October 1936 and opened to the public on Memorial Day 1938.
The entire building received a facelift, from a cleaning of the four iconic Walker Hancock sculptures framing the entrances to the decorative plasterwork on the ceilings. The renovations included additional exhibit space, an energy efficient HVAC system, and improved access for visitors with disabilities. The renovated Court of Honor across from the museum now includes a reflecting pool, Five Branches Fountain and a new electric charging station for electric vehicles. A new wall honors St. Louis servicemembers who made the ultimate sacrifice in more recent wars.
Soldiers Memorial tells the stories of service men and women from St. Louis and their families, as well as St. Louis’ contributions to the war effort. The core galleries on the main floor of Soldiers Memorial feature a long-term exhibition in four sections: Pre WWI, WWI, WII, and Post WWII. Between 250 and 300 artifacts will be on display, ranging from the earliest artifacts in the collection from the War of 1812 all the way up to the War on Terror. Although these galleries will take a chronological interpretive approach, beginning with the American Revolution, the exhibition will not be telling the story of every single American war and conflict. It will tell the story of major US conflicts through the lens of St. Louis. The lower level of Soldiers Memorial has being renovated for use as an exhibition gallery, more than doubling the amount of exhibit space at Soldiers Memorial. This is home to the Museum’s rotating exhibitions.
The Soldiers Memorial Military Museum is located at 1315 Chestnut Street, St. Louis, MO 63103. Access is free. Call 314-818-6780 for more information. (All visitors will need advanced tickets, which will be available via mohistory.org)
The art deco monumental "Courage" statue by Walker Hancock is one of four horsemen flanking the entrances to the museum.
The "Vision" statue by Walker Hancock, one of the Monuments Men, who recovered art treasures looted by the Nazis.