Guide to exploring the newly renovated Gateway Arch Museum
The Gateway Arch in St. Louis has long stood as the entrance to the west.
Architect Eero Saarinen created the 630-foot stainless steel-clad arch in 1965.
The one-of-a-kind symbol dominates the 91 acres that make up the Gateway Arch National Park.
But it’s definitely not the only attraction, especially now.
What’s new inside:
A total of $380 million was used to create a new entrance into the arch, an expanded museum, and major landscape changes.
Time-Lapse of Gateway Arch Museum Construction, courtesy of EarthCam.
The museum itself is now housed in a 150,000 square-foot multi-level addition.
It includes six themed, interactive exhibit galleries.
Together, they tell the story of westward expansion and the role St. Louis played from several different perspectives, covering the mid-1700s colonial era to 1965 when the Arch was completed.
- Colonial St. Louis – how St. Louis became a prosperous trading village rooted in French culture and governed by the Spanish until the Louisiana Purchase transferred the territory to the United States.
- Jefferson’s Vision – how President Thomas Jefferson furthered the westward expansion of the U.S. by sending expeditions to lay claim to the territory, search for trading partners and locate natural resources for the young nation.
- The Riverfront Era – how St. Louis became one of America’s busiest ports and trade centers in the mid-1800s.
- Manifest Destiny – how the westward migration of the mid-1800s affected American Indians, Mexicans and pioneers themselves.
- New Frontiers – how the industrialization of America hastened American settlement of the West and caused American Indians to lose all or part of their homelands.
Building the Gateway Arch – how the great American monument that commemorates westward expansion was designed and built.
Universal Design principles guided the new design. That means anyone, no matter their ability, will be able to enjoy the museum.
Even better: admission is free!
Other changes include:
- On the mezzanine level, a terrazzo floor shows a map of North America with historic trails allowing visitors to trace pioneers’ journeys to the West.
- The new 100 ft.-wide Video Wall in the tram lobby shows the building of the Gateway Arch and scenes of American innovation.
- The Keystone Exhibit in the tram lobby will allow all visitors to experience the top of the Arch through live webcam feeds from the observation deck.
- Renovated tram loading zones have been updated with an interactive, fun, and educational experience.
- A new classroom space will be available for school trips and education programs.
What’s new outside:
Prior to now, the roaring traffic that makes up Interstate 44 separated the arch from the Old Courthouse, another St. Louis landmark.
But that has all changed with the addition of what’s being called the “Park Over the Highway.”
Interstate 44 now flows beneath a greenway land bridge meaning you can easily see both landmarks.
It’s a perfect place for a bike ride, a leisurely walk or a scenic picnic.
Plan your trip:
The Museum at the Gateway Arch will open to the public on July 3.
You and yours are invited for a ribbon cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. by the new West Entrance.
A grand opening celebration will follow in the North Gateway park area from 11:30 a.m. to 2.
Enjoy live music, food, and fun.
Or plan a road trip to see the arch at a later date.
- Getting there: The arch is reachable from all major interstates in Missouri and Illinois. CLICK HERE for detailed directions.
- Parking: The Gateway Arch has no designated, on-site visitor parking. But you can leave your car at a number of paid parking garages and lots around the area. Follow this link to some of the preferred spots. getaroundstl.com/attractions/parking
- MetroLink: Use Laclede’s Landing MetroLink station to access the Gateway Arch National Park
- Tram ride to the top: Buying your tickets in advance is strongly suggested since they frequently sell out. It costs $13 for adults over the age of 16 and $10 for kids. CLICK HERE to buy yours. Make sure you allow plenty of time to go through a security screening before the tram ride. During busy times, it might take 30-45 minutes.